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


Let the count down begin.

After two days of being trapped in the house while my wife and went out and had 'fun' shopping, we decided to get out the house for a bit, and headed downtown to watch the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. 

It actually warmed up above freezing today, so it wasn't a cold evening, but due to temperature inversion we've been dealing with for about a week now, it was a bit clammy. 

Now worries, I brought my own smiles with me to warm the cockles of my heart.


Even with the smiles, it got kind of chilly, and I was glad that we only spent about an hour waiting for the lighting.  That is one great advantage of the short days...by 5 o'clock it was dark enough to appreciate the town green being lit up.

Whole Wheat!

It can't be anymore than twice a month that I need to find something to do with the bananas rapidly moving past their use by date on the counter.  Having spent most of the last three days around the oven, I didn't feel like making banana bread, so instead I found this recipe for Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes. 

As usual the first time trying a new recipe, I followed this one as closely as I could, right up to the end, when I decided these pancakes would be a great use for the half bag of chocolate chips in our freezer.  Since that wasn't enough, my older daughter, who LOVES peanut butter and banana sandwiches, asked me if I could spread some peanut butter on the completed product. I did her one better, spreading on some peanut butter and then stacking the pancakes on the griddle.  Finally, since we already had peanut butter involved, I decided that honey would be a better toping than syrup.

Now, that is an energy packed start to the day. 


Offically Over

Got the last of the left-overs properly put away today, marking the official end of Thanksgiving.

I purposefully asked my wife to pick up the largest turkey that she could after pursuing the different adds and figuring out which deal was the best. 

The end result was a Twenty-two pound for my two kids, my wife and I.

Well, someone didn't pull their weight, and so when it cooled down, we were left with roughly 6 pounds of meat.  Rather than freeze it, my plan all along(and the reason I asked my wife to pick up such a large bird) was to break out the pressure canner

2.5 hours later...I was done, with 7 new pints of shredded/diced turkey cooling so it could go out in the garage. 

And how did we get here?

If someone had asked me 5 years ago of what I would be doing the day after Thanksgiving...I'm not sure 'using the garden trowel to chip frozen chicken shit out of the coop' would have made it on the list. 

The paths we take to get where we are...they aren't always straight. 

Bah Humbug, Vol. 1

Yes, I know yesterday was our Day of Thanks...but please, let me be the first to throw a wet blanket on everything.


What problem, exactly?  I'm guessing they are talking about this relatively new phenomena of stretching 'Black Friday' into Thursday evening.  Although, from the graphic, they are trying to tie that in to 'support of an $11 minimum wage'.  I'm not going to address that one right now, other than to say I am against it, and the whole concept of a 'Living Wage'.  Like I said...this is about Bah Humbug's.

As far as the attempted forced outrage at having stores open on Thanksgiving...Stop...just stop.  You can blame my wife for putting me in this mood.  She had a friend on facebook that just hired on to Macy's two weeks ago as 'seasonal staff' complaining about all the hours they were asking her to work this weekend.  You hired in specifically to make more money over the Holidays!!!!!!!!!

There are MILLIONS of people that work on Thanksgiving. Some of it is for important stuff:  Keeping NFL games on TV, Military, police and firemen, nurses and doctors.  Some of it is for less important stuff: Commerce. 

To steal a quote from Commander Zero: you’re missing the point of preparedness. If theres an opportunity to save money and acquire necessary gear, then I don’t care if it falls on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or VoodooMan Day. I’m not about holidays, I’m about preparedness.

Now, in this case, I didn't spend enough time in the adds or on the internet looking for black Friday deals(or Thursday night) deals...so I don't spot anything worthy of getting me out of the house.  And trust me...a deal would have to be insane to get me out of the house on Thanksgiving night...just because I am lazy.  Thanksgiving evening I am usually quite full/bloated and pleasantly drowsy.  The last thing I feel like doing is elbowing my way through crowds for the consumer electronic crap that is usually being dangled in the face of the masses.  I have no need for a bigger T.V, or a $3 Door Buster Toaster. 

If someone has a Black Friday deal on .22 ammo, or Celox...I'm there...but that is what the internet is for.

As for the concept that Thanksgiving is sacred...it's a day.  It was picked as the 4th Thursday in November and not tied to any date because....it's not that important.  You shouldn't need a calendar to tell you to cook a turkey, and mashed taters, and over eat....or invite some friends and family over to spend time with them. 


Only one problem..

Thanksgiving was a success today...stress-free, and a good time with the family.  Everything made it to the table on time and warm.

It looks like a Very Brady Thanksgiving! 

The biggest difficulty encountered during the day was trying to get a picture of the whole family...kind of 'group selfie'.   Luckily, most of the raw material we get to work with is Grade 'A'.

Tomorrow is another day.  I will doubtless get up early and see my wife off on her shopping adventure, before getting busy in the kitchen again.  We bought a pretty huge turkey(22 pounds!) specifically to have left-overs, and tomorrow I will break out the pressure canner to make up 6 or 7 pints of canned turkey.


It's a nice day to be inside today...it's more than a little frosty out there.

Those are some tough birds.  The hoar frost makes it much easier to see the holes and tears in the netting over the chicken run, but it makes me feel guilty about them being out in the cold.  Guilty enough that at some point I'm sure they'll get some warm turkey and all the trimmings...and maybe even some pie. 

Inside, it's pleasant.  We are staying home today...the first time in 4 or 5 years we have eaten Thanksgiving dinner at our table.  The turkey is already at 145 degrees, the mashed taters, mashed rutabaga/parsnips, and cranberry sauce are ready, and just need to be heated up.  The stuffing is ready to be baked, as are the Rosemary Yeast Rolls with Sea Salt

Should be a stress free family day...and I hope the rest of you out there are as content as I am.


Early, or late, depending on your point of view.

Seemed a little strange to be setting my turkey into it's brine on the same night that we were lighting the menorah.  Unlike those folks who say 'Wow...Hanukkah's early this year, I know the truth...those 'Johnny-come-latelies' on the Gregorian Calendar(Thanksgiving and Christmas) are just running late.

Happy Thanksgivukkah! 

Thank you, drive through.

Sorry...stuff's been a little slow and unmotivated around here the last two days or so. Please check back later for real opinions/insight on life.

For now...cat's snuggling in a basket of blankets(well, afghans).


Got the prayer all picked out.

There are many things to do to get ready for Thanksgiving...check one more off the list.  My daughters helped pick it out.


What do we have here?

Let's look at everything on the table:

Hmmm...a pound of soaked kidney beans, a Red Hook Ale, Ro-Tel, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, spices, chocolate, and 3 pounds of meat(ground beef, sausage, and cubed venison round)...looks like chili fixings!

And it was good, especially with homemade whole wheat tortilla's on the side. 
It's a good thing I made it too...it took every ounce...every hour of simmered goodness AND 3 Leinenkugel Vanilla Porters to guide my Patriots past the Denver Bronco's.

Bed time...and a good start to the short week.

Could you say that again into the microphone...

Yesterday my wife bought a new broom/dust pan for the house...and it's not what I would have picked...but it just proves she has her own special brand of genius.

My younger daughter couldn't wait to get her hands on the new polka-dot broom.  After dinner, the girls take turns...one cleans the table, the other sweeps the floor.  Usually, 'cleaning the table' it the preferred job...it's easier.  Sweeping the floor requires moving chairs, and poking around in corners.

Heck...this time my daughter asked if she could clean the floor before dinner, gushing 'Mommy, I love sweeping with this broom!'

We'll see how long that lasts, but for now, chalk one up in the win column for my wife.


Well, I wasn't ready for THAT...

Well, today was my 2nd Annual Pain Day...the day when it is my turn to accompany my daughter on her Girls on Track 'Season' ending 5K run. 

Last year when I went, things were bad.  I went into it 100% unprepared, having run no further than from my car to the front door during a rain storm for...a while.

This time, I got a little more prepared.  I've been using the elliptical machine/recumbent bike at work during lunch twice a week for about 6 months, and because there is really no substitute for actually running, I have been running at work twice a week(instead of the elliptical(I ain't THAT motivated)  for the last month or so.  Even in that month(maybe 8-9 times doing a 3-mile loop at work), I have seen improvement.  Not saying I can run the whole 3 miles, but I've gone from 200 yards before I need to take a break to almost half a mile I before I need to take a break...and running maybe 30% total the first time to running/jogging 60% now.  Imagine if I got really motivated?

Anyway...I didn't want to limit my daughter, so I've put a little bit of effort in this year.  What I wasn't prepared for(what there is really NO way to prepare for), was the weather. The front that passed through this week dropped overnight lows into the low-teens. 

See how happy we are?  It didn't last long...air temperature when we showed up at the park to meet the rest of my daughters team was a Gosh-Awful 13 degrees!   Now, I know I spent a lot of the summer complaining about how toasty it can get in The Tri-Cities, and so I promise, I won't complain about the cold again, but...there is a difference between getting to bundle up and go to work, and trying to stay flexible enough to run. 
But you see(and this was the WORST part)...we didn't get to run right away.  Because they were trying to organize some 300+ 8-12 year old girls into their 'teams', and get group pictures, they wanted us there at 8:30, for an event that didn't begin until 10!  We had to stand out there in 13-degree weather for over 85 minutes, for a 40 second picture session! 
That was pain.  It may look like my daughter is grinning in our 'after' picture...but don't be fooled...that's a grimace. 
Still...it was a great father/daughter bonding time...and hey new long sleeved T-Shirt!  Plus, when it was all over...breakfast.
Might have to do 5K's more often...


I'm a week early!

It's that time of year when those of us with freezer/pantry space should be looking for deals.  Last week, I found boneless turkey breasts on sale at Safeway for $3.00 a pound...which, is not a bad deal when you start shopping at the grocery store deli, and realize you can rarely find sliced turkey for under $7.00 a pound.

I bought two of them, which is thawed in the fridge, and then brined last night.(gallon of water, 2 cups of kosher salt, 1 cup brown sugar, bay lead, cinnamon stick, rosemary, whole pepper corns). 

Today, I pulled them out of the brine and rinsed them off, before throwing them on the grill for an hour and a half(indirect heat and wood chips to give them some smoke...temp between 250 and 300), and then placing them in a 350 degree oven until the got to 170 degrees. 

After I pulled them from the oven, I let them cool to right around room temperature, before starting to slice them as thin as I could by hand.

Now...here is where the math get's wonky, and I need to do some more research.  I ended up with just around 2 pounds of sliced turkey on that plate...which is not what I expected to end up with.  I'll admit...I pulled some fairly inedible skin off each breast, and I did some sampling during the slicing, and my wife had one slab of turkey that was probably 3-4 'slices' thick for her dinner(passing on my pancakes).  But...we didn't do enough sampling to account for a 66% weight loss.

One thing that has my highly curious is how much the turkey breast initially weighed.  You see....the package came with a pouch of 'turkey gravy' already wrapped up with the bird...and I'm willing to bet it weighed at least 8 ounces...and maybe even close to a pound.  That's a pretty huge difference, and I wish I had weighed the breast prior to starting...and still a label around to glare at.  Did the label say 3lbs total?  Can I got stick it to Safeway because they said the turkey was $3 a pound, when it was really 2 pounds of turkey and 1 pound of gravy in each package?

All I know is that this mystery is the difference between 'Great Deal' $3 a pound turkey, and 'That had better be the best stuff you've ever eaten' $8-$9 a pound turkey. 

Luckily, while the final calculated price is not as cheap as I hoped it would be, the sliced turkey on that plate is about 17 times better than anything I ever bought at the store deli counter.

Got to be an easier way.

Earlier this week, like most of the northern tier of the country, we had a weather front pass through.  The temperatures dropped from an unseasonably warm 60ish, with my snapdragons trying to spit out more buds, to an overnight low of 10 Wednesday into Thursday. 

This had me WAY worried about my chickens. Everything I have read says that they are fine with temperatures down around freezing...and that colder temps won't hurt them, but could make them unhappy enough that they will stop laying.

I mean, I guess I could have prepared for this earlier in the fall, since it's a certainty at some point the temperatures in the inland Northwest will drop into single digits.  But, umm...hunting and football!

So, not being prepared, I took to the internet and settled on a very 1800's type solution. 

Hot Water Bottles.  I read about several people who place water jugs full of hot water into the coop, and let it go at that, so that's what I have done the last few nights.  Last night I even upgraded from plastic milk jugs to one of my spare glass beer growlers, which let me use water that was close to boiling.  Then you go place it in an out of the way corner of the coop.

This morning, when I replaced the bottle and opened the door of the coop, I checked the water temperature, and it was still 41 degrees.  Now...that doesn't mean that the air temp inside the coop is 40+ degrees...there is no fan forcing effective heat transfer...but, I don't need the coop kept balmy, I need it kept above 'egg-laying' temperature(or worst case, above 'fatal').

Still, even though this method is working, technology is our friend, and last night on the way home from work, I picked up a clamp light and a 25 watt red bulb.  Today I'll find a way to mount it in the coop, and run an extension cord.  While the water bottle method appears to be working, it requires me to make a trip outside at 6ish, 10ish, and then right after I wake up at 4:30ish. 

Mounting a light would be much nicer to my cold toes.  



Last week, this cartoon was making the rounds on facebook, and some blogs.

This week, I had annual respirator refresher training at work.  To partake in this training, you can't have any facial hair along the 'seal line' of the respirator.  Since my wife used to refer to the facial hair I had in the Navy as a 'molest-ache' as far as she is concerned, my choices are either 'goatee minimum', or bare. 


The positive side, is that I lose about 15 years in the process.  The before(with beautiful assistant):

The after(sad and lonely):

Worse than how I look is how I feel.  A cold front passed through yesterday, dropping temps from above average, to chilly, and bringing 20-25 mph winds for the last day or two.  Brrrrr.


No chance to learn.

Cases like this always bum me out a little bit.  I mean...don't get me wrong...I DO NOT fault the homeowner in the least.  Someone came barreling down his drive way, broke through his gate, and then smashed into some parked cars before trying to force his way into the house. 

The homeowner had his wife lock herself in the bathroom and call 911, while he armed himself and went to investigate.  A scuffle ensued, and the homeowner ended up putting 2 rounds into the rapidly cooling bad guy.

South Prairie man fatally shoots intruder

It doesn't look like there was really a reason for this to have to happen.  A few stories I've read indicate that they think drugs were involved...i.e. the perpetrator was high, and didn't really know what he was doing, and got dumb, and got himself killed. 

It's kind of a bummer...I don't think acting dumb while you are high should be a death sentence, but...man responding with deadly force to something that sets itself up as a snatch and grab doesn't feel like it's out of the box either.  

Too bad this dummy is never going to get a chance to learn from his mistake.   


That didn't last long.

Before we even bought our house, we knew we were going to need to get some shelving in the garage.  I would have LOVED to have a carpenter come in an build some custom stuff, but that wasn't in the budget.  What was in the budget was some fairly manly looking plastic shelving from Home Depot.  It was rated at 200 pounds a shelf, 800+ pounds total. 

Last week, I was out grabbing some peanut butter, and I noticed that we were getting some fairly noticeable sagging on a few of the shelves. 

Well...we still don't have the budget for custom shelving, but I did what I should have done in the first place, and decided to go with metal shelving...I just have to accept that I can't replace all 6 shelves at once.  The ones I picked up are rated at 4000 pounds total...and I think hope that they will be good for a number of years.

Next weekend, I'll hopefully get another two, and have them all swapped out before the new shelving starts counting as Christmas gifts.

Nothing new under the sun.

As my daughters have gotten older, they have started to have those things all women have...you know...opinions.

One of the negative sides of that(and there are positives) is that I find myself listening to music I otherwise wouldn't in the car...teeny-bopper type stuff, which is an issue, because some of it has serious 'ear worm' potential.

We all know the only way to get rid of an ear worm is to pass it on...but, I have to admit, when I listen to this song by Paramore...I think it would TOTALLY fit in on 'Tragic Kingdom'...No Doubt's breakthrough album, which would make my Top 10 list of CD's from the 90's...so...put up against that comparison, I guess it's not a horrible song...


Humans > Animals.

One of my acquaintances on facebook posted a link to a huffingtonpost article that I should have known better than to click on...but I did anyway.

Day of Shame: Michigan Wolf Slaughter Commences

After clicking on an article I shouldn't have clicked on...I then read it, AND was dumb enough to rebut the article...which is stupid, because I usually try to steer clear of emotional issues, and the fact is that hunters going out after animals as photogenic as wolves is a PURELY emotional issue...there is no real logic at all in the discussion.

Obviously, as a hunter of deer and potentially elk,
cougar and bears(if one crosses my path) I am a little biased. I see no evil, or shame in hunting something that the state has accepted my money and given me a tag to hunt. Personally, I have no interest in going out specifically for bear, cougar, OR wolf...they don't taste as good as deer or elk, and getting the skin turned into a rug is NOT cheap. I've got better things to do with my time.

However...the author of this article trips my trigger in his 3rd and 4th paragraphs, when he ratios the number of humans to the number of wolves, and states that people are the ones out of control. I'm sorry...I strongly disagree with any position implying that any number of animals are more important than ANY number of people.

Especially because the author leaves out the fact that that the wolf population in Michigan has increased from 20 animals to 658 animals in only 21 years! Since 1992! The increase rate has actually decreased in the last 5 years due to increased rates of winter kill because there isn't enough food to around for them.

Or the fact that a wolf kills approximately 20 deer a year...so, where are the tears for those 13,000 deer that hunters aren't going to get an opportunity to hunt? All the families that could go hungry because they can't go deer hunting?

Okay...I made that last paragraph up...last year hunters harvested 420,000 deer in Michigan last year...meaning wolves accounted for 3% of the deer people did...looks like I'm ready to write for the Huffingtonpost.

I just think that in the end, wolves ARE animals(even if they are cute ones), and that state Fish and Game Departments should be able to manage them just like any other animals, without people implying we need less people instead of less wolves

Swing and a miss

Had a nice date last night with the Mrs.  Dinner was tasty, and the service was good, and it got us back out the door in plenty of time to get to our movie, which is where things kind of went south.  Both my wife and I were...unimpressed with 'Ender's Game.' 

Both my wife and I really enjoyed the book...heck, my wife has gone on to read all 7 or 8 books in the Enderverse(she says her two favorite ones are the ones that focus on Bean), and so, we had high hopes. 

I'm willing to concede it's a tough task converting Ender's Game to a movie.  There is a reason it's taken almost 30 years to get it on screen...and it's a valiant attempt...it's just...not satisfying.  It's not the actors fault, I'm not even sure it's the directors fault.  It's entirely possible it's nobodies fault...that it was simply an impossible task.  Some books can be compressed to a 2 hour movie and still be satisfying, and some can't. 

There were just a lot of things that had to be cut out that made the book 'complete and satisfying' that were missing in the movie.  You didn't really get any of the pressure that was on Ender as a '3rd'.  They hinted at how they wanted to keep Ender isolated and from making friends, but there wasn't enough time to really drive it home.  There wasn't enough time to show him learning and teaching the Battle Room. 

Finally, they had to rush his transition from the Battle School to Command School...and in doing so, they tipped their hand too much.  When I read the book...I didn't see the ending coming.  Totally blind-sided me.  I think if I had watched the movie without reading the book...I would have picked it up.  They placed too much stress on the importance of his next step in training. 

So...yeah.  Just...I think seeing Thor 2 would have been a better date...


Well, that's different.

A few months ago, based on a recommendation from my dad of all people, I got my hands on Live Free or Die, by John Ringo.  I greatly enjoyed it, and after some patience, I was able to find Citadel, the 2nd book in the Troy Rising series...and I enjoyed it also.

With the 3rd Book in the Troy Rising series proving tough to find locally, but enjoying the writing of Mr. Ringo, I picked up the first two books of his 'Paladin of Shadows' series...'Ghost' and 'Kildar'. Today, I finished reading the first of these...and, umm...yeah, it's a little different than the 'Troy Rising' books.

First, the obvious differences: Where as 'Troy Rising' is hard, hard Science Fiction, 'Ghost' is much more of a 'techno-thriller', with somewhat of a Mack Bolan meets James Bond meets 50 Shades of Grey feeling to it.

It's an enjoyable book...but my experience with the 'Troy Rising' series left me totally unprepared for the 50 Shades of Grey aspects of 'Ghost'.

To start with...Mike Harmon is a former SEAL who has a novel protagonists habit of finding himself in situations where his own particular skill set allows him to save the day again and again, while repeatedly ending up on deaths door.  Along with his skill set, he has a barely contained rage that he directs not only against the bad guys who deserve it, but often upon the women he rescues, or drags along just so he can have a damsel in distress to de-stress himself upon.

In some ways, I would almost describe this book as the ultimate male escapists fantasy.  The good guy gets to jet set(and power boat)his way around the world, with a license to kill that should get him a 00 number, claiming young attractive women every step of the way, in some very...unique ways.   And yeah...that's the part that caught me by surprise.  I'm not a prude by any means, but the nookie in this book is right up there with anything I've ever read in a Stephen King book...

So...interesting book, and worth the read if you are aware what you are getting into. 

It's not just a Chicago thing!

Election officials here in Washington are dealing with a little bit of consternation this week, as they are busy certifying lasts weeks election results, which have led to 3 dead people being elected to several offices in the state.

Well, I guess in the short term, dead people being elected is less upsetting than dead people doing the voting.  I mean...at some point you need to print the ballots, and it's always possible that someone will pass away between when the ballots are printed and mailed out(now, I have no idea if this happened in this case...these folks could have died 6 months ago)...but something like this is always a possibility as we head to more and more areas doing strictly mail-in ballots.

I'm not even that worked up over the fact that each 'write in' vote is not individually tracked.  They are counted...they just aren't tracked to an individual name unless the total number of write-in's ends up having the majority, at which point they are recounted to see if an individual write-in candidate won the election. 

The part that frustrates me(and I've seen it on my ballots here), is people running unopposed...for ANYTHING.  Even in a case like the one shown in the story, for something like 'Water District Commissioner'. 

I wonder if you can go down to the local County Election Office two days before the candidate registration period ends and find out the total number of candidates for different offices, so you can at least try to ensure two names end up on the ballot for each position.

Not that I know if I would want to be a Water Commissioner. 


Doesn't look as pleasant as warm apple pie...

I'm blaming the website io9 for this latest installment of Things You Can't Un-See...a dolphin finding a way to pleasure itself...but hey, at least the fish is already dead.  Potentially NSFW(but then again, should you really be doing this at work?) so, I've got it installed after the break.


But, she had a piece of paper!

Over the weekend, a lady in Seattle learned an important lesson...that no matter what you call a piece of paper(in this case a 'Domestic Violence No Contact Order)....it won't protect you.

Luckily, she is still alive to learn that lesson, after an ex-boyfriend broke into her place

The dude got close enough to her to take the phone out of her hand as she was talking to the police.  If he had been homicidally minded, she would be dead...and there is nothing ALL the police in the world on the other end of a phone line could have done to bring her back. 

I hope that she learns from this, and gets something in the house to keep this from happening again. 


I do it for Brigid.

After expressing my desire in having a Mocha Death float, yesterday, and having Brigid coin it the 'Float of Death', well...I couldn't wait to try it, so I stopped at the store today and picked up another bottle of Mocha Death.

I thought it was pretty tasty...but my wife said she preferred her floats with root beer, and her beer in a glass by itself. 


The Stuff

Ah, winter is coming, which means the arrival of perhaps my favorite seasonal beer.

Why yes, that is a dark, dark beer...Mocha Death by Iron Horse Brewery in Ellensburg.  They start with their already excellent dark ale, Irish Death, and add in some extra espresso beans and some cocoa.  The result is smooth, and tasty, with very little bitterness. 

Next time I pick up a bottle, I might have to pick up some premium vanilla ice cream too...I've heard it makes one outstanding float. 

Happy Birthdays.

There are a couple of birthdays today. 

First, 238 years ago, Captain Samuel Nicholas formed the original 2 Battalions of the United States Marine Corps. Serving primarily as shipboard security and sharp-shooters aloft during ship-to-ship combat, we'll just kind of ignore the fact that Congress was dumb(hey, some things never change), disbanding both the Marines and the Navy after the Revolutionary War. 

As a sailor I can admit without jealousy that the Marines Dress uniform is the snazziest looking of any of our armed forces.

picture borrowed from the huffington post
Of course, whatever her talent short-comings, Kim Kardashian is devastatingly pretty, and one heck of an accessory for any uniform.

Speaking of pretty, our other birthday today is this pretty ladies:

picture from countrymusictattletales.
Yes, happy 30th Birthday to Miranda Lambert, who both I, and the voters from CMA Awards think is currently the best female singer in the country genre.  She might not have the straight out vocal chops of a Martina McBride, or even Carrie Underwood, but she's got a growl, and an attitude she is able to get across even through the radio, which is a talent into itself. 

She's kind of purty too. 


Ah...my bed.

Having spent a few days at my moms, it's nice to be back home, even if my wife isn't here...my bed is more comfortable than my moms couch(and I don't feel all restricted trying to sleep in actual pajamas).  She is currently visiting her sister back near the other Washington(I guess it's actually Fredericksburg, but close enough), and won't be home until late Sunday/Early Monday morning.  With her out of town, it seemed right to bring the girls to visit Nana one last time before winter weather makes traveling over the pass a more risky proposition.

It was a good Friday/Saturday.  I've already given a 'meh' review to Free Birds, a movie we drug my mom to see(should have drugged her before dragging her)(actually, I should have let her play Nana in Free Birds with the kids, while I saw Thor 2).  Before we did that though, we spent the morning at The Reptile Zoo in Monroe. 

My younger daughter used it as an opportunity to work on her puppy dog eyes.

Alas, I was strong, and we did not go home with baby alligators.

Or a 10-foot albino alligator.

The funny thing with snakes is the variety.   We have a nice corn snake at the house...and she is decent sized...probably about 4.5 feet...but she is whip thin for her length compared to most other snakes they had there...our corn snakes is about as big around as my thumb, while there was a western diamondback easily as big around as my wrist, even though it was at least 6 inches shorter than our corn snake.  And not as pretty. 
I'm glad my kids are adventurous.  Before leaving they got to handle two of the rosy boas, and they tried their best to be impressed, even though they were half the size of our snake.  What they really wanted to hold was the ball python, but it's a bit heavier, and they only want adults handling it. 
Maybe now,  I have an excuse to get a new snake...'hey honey, the girls want a ball python because they didn't get to hold one over the weekend!'. 
Might need to practice my delivery on that one. 

Free Birds

Postings been light as I have been out and about for a few days visiting the World's Greatest Nana with my daughters while my wife is off on her own adventure for the weekend. 

Yesterday afternoon, to pass the time, the girls drug my mom and I to go see Free Birds, the new animated movie about two turkeys who travel back in time to end the tradition of turkey for Thanksgiving dinner before it can get started.

'Free Birds' is not a Disney/Pixar movie, which is really all you need to know.  Compared to Up, or Toy Story, or Tangled, or Finding Nemo, it's just very 'meh.  It's lacking in any sort of strong plot, or story telling, or the 'eye-wink' jokes aimed at parents that make the movies I listed above so good.

My kids, the target audience, enjoyed.  My mom and I were less impressed.  I thought the funniest part of the movie was George Takei as the slightly fabulous voice of the time machine, STEVE.  I'm happy for George Takei...after a lifetime of having to run a false flag operation in public, he has been able to embrace what he is since he came out in 2005. 


I know...Halloween is over.

While we put pumpkins on our porch for Halloween, we put them in pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I figure I can continue the search for the perfect pumpkin brew. 
This weeks contestant is Woodchuck Reserve Pumpkin Hard Cider.
First, a disclaimer.  I am not unbiased in this one...Woodchuck Hard Cider, made in Vermont, is without a doubt my favorite domestic hard cider.   When I was stationed in Connecticut, I started drinking Woodchuck(made in Vermont), and....yeah, it remains the standard to which I hold hard ciders, and only two have matched/surpassed that standard(both made in England since you asked: Strongbow which matched the standard, and Woodpecker which is The Best hard cider I have ever had).

So...the bottle is orange...and the cider itself is much more of an amber shade then Woodchucks' normal Amber Cider is.  As the pumpkin...Woodchuck describes the Reserve Pumpkin Cider as having a pumpkin finish...and rally, that's about it.  It's incredibly subtle...so subtle that my said she would almost say it tastes more like peach than pumpkin.  You can just tell at the end that there is something other than the normal Woodchuck apple flavor.  As a result, I would say the Woodchuck Pumpkin tastes almost 98% the same as their base cider...making it far and away the best 'pumpkin brew' I have had. 


With my wife being out of town, I figured I would settle in and watch the Country Music Awards, since most female country singers are worthy of a 2nd, 3rd, or 58th glance.

Let's join it in progress:

8:04: Good Lord, Carrie Underwood is a doll.  I hope they didn't let anyone sit in the front three rows, or they are getting to see more than they bargained for with that dress. God Bless Al Gore's Internet for already having pictures.  This one is from Zap2it where they are trying to count how many dresses Carrie goes through tonight. 

8:10: Hah...Country Singers and their fans don't like Obamacare...who knew?

8:15: No, no, no...Florida Georgia Line's lite pop-rock song cruise control was NOT better than Miranda Lamberts lite rock-pop song, or Darius Rucker's popped up remake of the bluegrass song Wagon Wheel.

8:25: Casey Musgraves' song Follow Your Arrow was better than Jason Aldean's generic 'look how redneck I am' anthem, Night Train(although, it's not as annoying as other 'look how redneck I am' anthems), AND she has nicer legs. 

8:32: Not one of Lady Antebellum's stronger songs.  Kind of neat to see Hillary Scott still looking like a lady who just had a baby back in July(not even 4 months ago).  Some of these celebrities lose the wait scary fast.

8:43: Little Big Town...that's some good harmony...they are a band that could have found success in any time period of country music. 

8:50: Disagree...Thompson Squared AND Sugarland AND Big and Rich(who I didn't know were still together) are all better than Florida Georgia Line.

8:52 Can't believe they made me wait almost an hour for our first Miranda Lambert sighting...and that's sharing the stage with Keith Urban.   Mrs. Dum Vivimus is my be-all-end-all, but if Miranda ever calls and asks me if I want to go deer hunting with her...I'm saying yes. 

Wait a minute...this show is three hours long?  And I don't know if Miranda is going to end up on stage again?  May end up fast forwarding this...or just hitting the highlights. 

9:02: Taylor Swift is not a highlight(even if she is turning into a stunning woman).  Taylor on stage with an obviously black-mailed Vince Gill and Allison Krause...still not a highlight...but much, much closer.

9:25: The Band Perry.  Perhaps my current favorite country group right now.  Kimberly Perry makes me wish I was 10 years younger.  And richer, and better looking.  And, you know...had an excuse to meet her.  Or, I can just listen to them.  Young lady has some pipes.

9:50: Taylor Swift, special award...blah, blah, blah.  She failed to kiss George Strait's ring...I hope she makes it off the stage before lightening strikes her down.

And that's it...I wanted to watch the tribute to Kenny Rodger's mannequin(you mean that's him!?!?!?!?) but it's almost bed time.  A three hour award show...who's idea is that? 

Fast forwarding to the morning after, I got not problem the big awards that were given after my bed time.  Countries power couple, Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton won Female and Male Vocalist of the year, and George Strait, on his farewell The Cowboy Rides Away tour, won Entertainer of the Year. 



In an effort to keep providing the chickens with fresh(cost efficient) growing things over the winter, I've started getting into sprouting.  So far I have tried three different things with various results:

1. Whole oat groats, which did poor, poor, poor. Only done one batch so far...will have to try again since I still have half a pound of them to play with.

2. Lentils.  Have made two successful batches so far...and they have done 'okay.'  We have um...plenty of them in the house, and it's a good excuse to rotate some older bags out.

3.  Clover seed.  I went to the local health food store looking for things to sprout, and while they have a generic 'salad/sandwich sprouting mix', it was right around $15 a pound, but I noticed it appeared to be made up of roughly 50% clover seeds by volume, and clover seeds by themselves were only $6 a pound...so I got all kinds of cheap, and bought half a pound to see how they did.

They did OUTSTANDING.  This is my 2nd batch, which the birds will get tomorrow.

Almost 2/3rd of a quart from 2 table spoons of seeds.  Not too shabby.  And they don't taste bad either...I grabbed a pinch of the first batch last week.

Next week, I'll look for a few other things to try.  We have many different types of beans around the house...I'm sure I can try a few different kinds of them, for some variety. 

What a choice.

A very sobering story out of Indiana, where a young hunter(well, 32 is younger than I am), fell 16 feet out of tree, crushing C3, C4, and C5 vertebrae, leaving him paralyzed from the shoulders down. Doctors were keeping him under sedation and on a breathing machine, while his family tried to make some decisions about his future...the biggest one being, do we leave him on the ventilator?

Instead of making that decision in a vacuum, the family asked if the man, Tim Bowers, could be taken out of sedation, so he could make his own decision.  The doctors did so, and after everything was explained to him, Mr. Bowers asked to have the breathing tube removed so he could talk to his family, and requested that no actions be taken if he was not able to breath on his own.  This resulted in him passing away later that day. 

I don't blame him...and it's quite possibly the choice I would have made.

I don't have any kind of religious objections to suicide(not that I am certain this would fit under the definition of suicide, but I know some feel that taking no action to stop ending a life is the same as actively working to end a life).  If you decide you are tired of living...go for it.  Just please do it in a way that is the least inconvenient to other people.   Don't shoot up the ceiling of a mall, don't stand on a bridge, stopping rush hour traffic for a whole morning. 

In this case...according to doctors, it wasn't going to get any better for this guy(well, they might have been able to fuse his spine so he could be left sitting in bed instead of laying down)...but...that's it.  Potentially 30-40 years laying(maybe sitting) in a bed...having a machine breath for him.  He was never going to have more of his family around him then he did right then. 

There are selfish parts to the decision...I don't think I could spend 30-40 years in a bed, not able to move, or feel, or laugh, or joke because a breathing tube is down your throat without going slowly insane. 

Part of it though, is making the tough decision for the rest of your family.  Is it right to be a load on your family for 30-40 years?  Yes...my wife(and I hope his wife of barely 3 months) love me unconditionally...but how long with that love last without being able to get hugs, kisses, tickles, or even hands held?  Without me being able to tell jokes, or sing to her, or tell her how beautiful she is.  Maybe the right call is 'let me end it now, cleanly, instead of watching me rot away, while love slowly turns to melancholy?'  How long before the daily visits become every other day, and then weekly...you have to cut her(and the rest of your family) free.

I think it was the right call...I just hope I never have to make it. 


But it's not evil when WE do it.

I don't know why hypocrisy bothers me...but it does.  This week, I have been seeing a lot of folks on facebook going off about Big Business Subsidies, and of course, they are all the Republicans fault. 

Except when it is the Democratic Governor of Washington calling a special session of the State Legislature to get a series of bills passed that will save Boeing $8 billion in an effort to convince Boeing to open a new factory in the south Puget Sound area. 

You know...I really don't have a problem the idea itself.  I'm assuming that someone has done the math and figured out that even though they are saving Boeing $8 billion, the state expects that they can make MORE than $8 billion in increased excise taxes and property taxes. 

Mmm...that word...assuming.  Guess I'd rather say 'assuming' than 'hoping'...using the first one means I expect to be disappointed. 


Now, THAT'S a home economics class!

My wife showed me a lesson plan she has penciled in to start on in a few weeks...20 days of Holiday Cookies!

Now...I'm not saying I'm excited for all of them.  For instance, on day 2, the blog author says her Cornmeal Cookies (Paste di Meliga) ended up as chicken food.  There are also a few days where the author does not offer non-gluten free alternatives. But, there are chocolate chip cookies, and soft ginger snaps. 

I give this my home schooling stamp of approval. 


Don't call them weeds.

The word 'weed' has a certain negative connotation to it...and it's hard to be too negative about things that have a use...and save me money.  The fact is...the chickens LOVE the weeds.  Common Mallow, chickweed,  wood sorrel(which I always confuse with clover), and plenty of dandelions.  

I had done a lot of research before we got chickens, and one thing that came up again and again was their weed control ability...but after learning that they like eating normal plants like tomatoes and the wife's hosta just as much as they like weeds(and pooping on my patio), we don't give them free run very often any more.  Which means I need to bring the weeds to them...so it's not saving me time, but it is saving me money...as the chickens want green stuff, and the thought of having to buy them bags of lettuce and spinach...well, it hurts. 

Now, I just need to decide if there is some kind of etiquette I need to follow before I go knock on my neighbors doors and ask them if I can weed their flower beds for them.


Rule 1: The Stupid Shall be Punished.

So...a wise man learns from the lessons of others.  In this case, the lesson is, if you break the rules, don't send pictures of the results into magazines so they can publish them!

Man's hunting magazine photo gets him in trouble

It's kind of confusing...because they got the guy on was not what they originally started investigating him for.  I watched a few local news stories to get the whole picture.  Kyle McCormack(referred to now on as chucklehead) sent Buckmasters Magazine a picture of two whitetail bucks he shot in Kansas, claiming he shot one in archery season, and one in rifle season.  A lifetime hunter in Kansas says 'strange...you can't shoot two antlered deer in the same year in Kansas', and tips off the authorities.

Upon investigating chuckleheads house, they find antlers from a bull elk and a black-tail deer that were taken in the Capitol State Forest here in Washington without proper licensing.  What they were actually able to get him on was the 'illegal interstate commerce of wildlife', and he plead his way down to one year of probation, and a $500 fine, and then agreeing to donate another $2500 to the Lacey Act Reward Fund(which goes to reward tips against wildlife law violators).

Two things missing from the article, and I'm trying to do research to find out more info...but what about future hunting licenses?  None of the stories I've read say anything about that...and that is how you get to guys like this.  Make him wait 5 years before he can go hunting again...and not just in Washington where he broke the rules...EVERYWHERE.  As near as I can tell, this guy was gunning for his own TV show...not being able to hunt would curtail that career choice.

Also...Why WASHINGTON?  And why the Capitol State Forest?  As a Washington resident and hunter, I'm here to tell you...Washington is not a premier hunting location.  To get here, he had to go through Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho...all of those are better choices for elk hunting than Washington.  And as for the Capitol State Forest...it's a nice little 90,000 acre state forest that begins about 5 miles south of Olympia, and it's proximity on the south Puget Sound area make it a very popular hunting destination for folks who can't take time off to get further away.  It's not a trophy factory though.

Dumb, Dumb, Dumb.