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


So Sad

A sad story out today, that started on our local news stations, but is now getting national play.  Tragedy has that effect.

Sand collapse kills 9-year-old girl at Oregon beach

My gosh.  What parent hasn't had a kid declare that they are going to dig a hole to China while playing at the beach?  And you giggle, and watch them dig away.  As long as they wait half-an-hour after eating before they go swimming, and put on sun block...how much trouble do you think your kid is going to get into digging in the sand?

Yet...it's the third 'sand cave-in' related fatality this year! 

And yeah...I gave my kids a big hug after reading this story.  My heart goes out the family in this one. 

It's a challenge.

I don't talk finances too much around here, other than trying to promote a low level of personal fiscal responsibility. 

A week or two ago, my wife and I had to sit down an have a fairly serious discussion about finances.  Without talking numbers, I feel I make good money.  It's enough to lure me away from a cushy federal job, and allow my wife to concentrate on home schooling.  If you had told 25 year old newly married me, living off E-5 pay in the Navy, that I what I make now is 'not enough', I would have thought you were crazy.

Before I bring the mood down too much and you think I am throwing a pity party...luckily, my wife and I are having this conversation not because things are going badly, but more because they are not going the right direction as fast as they should be.  We intentionally bought less house than we could afford(or, settled for 'enough' house instead of getting more than we needed), with the intent of using the money we weren't spending on a house to get land at some point.

One thing we kind of overlooked though, was that the right thing to do first was get out of debt. Once upon a time, when we moved out of Western Washington, our home we owned there spent 22 months on the market before selling...and even then, sold for 20K less than we paid for it.   Sad Story...and over that time, we(I) allowed one of our credit card balances to creep up, and up.

We are not full on Dave Ramsey followers, but I like a lot of what he says, and so we are following his route to clearing our debt...pay off the smallest loan/debt first, and work your way up.  It's working...I only have three payments(or one lump check) left on my used F-150.  After that, it's 6-9 months on clearing the student loans we took when my wife worked on her LPN license(crazy...school we could afford, it was the child care that killed us)...and then, the credit card. 

It's just, that while follow that path, the finance charges on the credit card hurt, eating into the other money I was hoping we would start building towards a vacation property down payment.  Basically...we were trying to follow only part of Ramsey's method...in his world, you put every red cent into debt reduction...we were trying to play both sides of the fence, and finally admitted to each other that we aren't going to get there.  Time to put the 'vacation property' idea on hold for a year or two.


But hey, look...fresh bread!

In an effort to jump start us in the right direction, my wife issued some kind of 2-Week No Spending Death Challenge.  Basically, all we are supposed to spend money on this two week period is gas so I can get to work, and milk.  We originally had bread on the allowable expenses list but I said, hey...I can make bread(came out okay...only got about 75% of the rise I was hoping for, but it slices good and holds up well) and that will save an extra $6-10.  However...I did NOT offer to drink powdered milk.

Are we actually going to save any money?  Yeah...I think by cutting out 'impulse' buys, and my tendency to always buy something more than I meant to whenever I hit the store on the way home...we will spend less money this week than most other two week periods. 

It's also good because it is forcing us to use stuff form the pantry/freezer we not usually use. Yesterday for dinner, I did a corned beef that I bought back in March and forgot about. 

Once this is over, we will need to restock some things...but luckily, we are in a position with food storage that we can be patient, and wait for sales.  Plus, I already told my wife we will hold off on stocking up on meats.  Hunting season is a month away, and we will wait an see how that goes before spending too much money on meat.


I will hunt them down...

So there I was, minding my own business, when my daughter comes into living room, and tells me 'Dad...there is a lot of water on the floor in laundry room...and it looks like it is spraying down from the ceiling'.

Well...that gets a reaction.  There was a lot of water on the floor in the laundry room(and seeping into the family room carpet)...but the good news is that it was coming out the plastic tubing running to the ice machine, and not from some other more horrifying source.

That is where the good news stopped.

I followed the tubing back to it's source...and yay!  there was a valve! 

However...when I shut the valve, the water didn't stop.  First off...the little needle valve was tough to turn...I actually put a crescent wrench on it to turn it...and when I reached the torque point where I started to worry that I was going to snap the valve body...I stopped torqueing, and started looking upstream for another valve to shut.

There wasn't one...other than the main shut-off valve coming into the house. 

Some idiot(I'm assuming it was the previous owner), installed a self-lapping saddle valve on a portion of piping that there was no other way to isolate.

I didn't know it was a 'self-lapping saddle valve' until I got to the hardware store with my pictures to find a solution to the problem.  The short-term solution was closing the house shut-off valve...which I did when I found out the needle valve didn't stop the flow.  Long term...well, I was hoping I could replace the valve, but...when I got to the store and saw how a saddle valve worked, that didn't seem like a good plan. Instead, I went with plan 'B'...disconnect the fitting where the tubing goes in, and cap that off. 

Mission successful.  I restored water to the house, and the kids got to brush their teeth before bed time. 

It still looks like there is no long term solution...I will just have to check the cap I installed every so often to make sure it doesn't start leaking.

What a stupid design. 

Even Wikipedia tells you to stay far, far away from saddle valves.


Not sure about those railroad guys...

So, if a few days ago was a rant about the emotional side of my weekend train ride, this would be a review on the actual train ride, and it's associated museum. 

For those of you asking yourself 'what they hell is he talking about', this last weekend my dad, brother and I got our families together for the first time in over 18 months, and to pass the time, we decided to ride the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad, which also includes a visit to the Railroad Museum in Mineral, Wa.

The train ride itself was less impressive than it's name would lead you to believe.  There are a few peek-a-boo views of Mount Rainier and some of the foothills, but there are just as many unscenic views of rusted out singlewides and RV's parked on some of the rural lots lining the rail line, and you get to see them coming and going, because you just run the same 11 mile stretch of twice between Elbe and Mineral, with a 45 minute stop or so at the cute little museum.

I actually got more out of the museum than I did the train ride.  It's a train/logging museum, and I got the learn things, like the origination of the word 'flunky'.  While the word actually originated in Scotland, it's also what they called the girls that were brought in to run the dining rooms at the logging camps...and they did not have an easy life.  A camp of 70 men would be supported by two women, who did all the cooking and dishwashing for all those men...and one could only guess they pumped a lot of food into those lumberjacks at the turn of the century.

Also impressive was the sheer amount of IRON.  Growing up in an age of increasingly skeletal metal/composite frames covered by foamed plastic, the mass of metal making up one of these steam engines is AMAZING...190,000 pounds in some of them.

Of course, although I'm approaching 40, I'm still a 12-year old kid inside...and I think the same can be said for these railroad guys.

Rod.  Climax.  'Unit'.  You can almost imagine the Beavis and Butt Head giggle I kept whispering into my wife's ear.
One other interesting take away that my dad had: On our way out, we poked our head into the machine shop at the museum(which also functioned as their repair depot), and my dad observed that the machinery in their machine shop looked just like the stuff that had been in the machine shop on his first ship back in 1970.  I do know that the lathe they had wouldn't fit in your average home shop.


Family Gathering

This last weekend, we got together with my dad and my brother, and their family.  It's the first time since November of 2012 that we got all of my dad's granddaughters in one place.

It shouldn't have been that long...but, well...family.  My dad lives about 4 hours from us...the same general distance as my mom, whom we see every 8-10 weeks...but, even when we lived on the other side of the mountains, and we were less than 2 hours from each parent, we still saw my dad 33% as often as my mom. 

Many reasons, and none of them good.  Just...my dad is different than my mom, and his situation is different.  For the last few years, he has been fighting to get official custody of my step-brothers kids, something that finally happened earlier this year...so, he is not a gentleman in his mid-60s raising an 15 year old and an 11 year old. He is retired from the Navy, but still runs his own flooring business.  He is busier than he should have to be at his age with work, and dancing classes/girl scouts for the girls.  When he does get a day off, he feels he has earned the right to spend some of his remaining time on himself golfing, instead of driving 4 hours in a car with kids to visit us, I guess. 

It's also tough because, for some other reason, there is 'no room for us at the inn'.  Despite the fact that my mom has been able to find room for my wife and I, and our daughters to crash at her two bedroom place for a night, there is not enough room for that at my dads 2400sf place, so visiting him would involve having to rent a hotel room...an added expense we can't always swing, and frankly, I get pouty at the idea of having to do that...so we don't(I never said I wasn't at least partway to blame for the state of things).

Even this weekend, we didn't go to their place...we met in the tiny town of Elbe(1 hour drive for them, 3.5 for us) to ride the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad

It was a nice get together...a chance to visit, and catch up...even if it wasn't the chance to show off the life I am building for myself with my family(bitter much?).  True to it's name, there were even some scenic views of Mount Rainier(although, you also could have called it ''Rusted out Singlewide Scenic Railroad...there more than a few of those on lots lining the tracks).

It's not a perfect family...we don't see each other as much as we should...but we do still talk to each other regularly...which is better than some families do. 

I also got a chance to get an updated picture with me and my dad...which is going to mean more to me someday than it does now. 


Hope Springs Eternal.

There hasn't been a lot of 'garden boast posts' around here lately, because, well...there hasn't been a lot of garden boasting to do.  I've been getting vegetables, but the output, a handful of cherry tomatoes a  day, a few full size tomatoes and zucchini a week, and one nice initial batch of Anaheim Peppers, has not been bragable given the effort/expenses that were put into the garden beds. 

All is not quite lost yet.  My zucchini plants that I started from seed and allowed to get root bound in those stupid starter pellets are finally producing...just as the ones I planted from the store are petering out, so I should keep getting a few zucchini/yellow squash a week well into September.  I've got a steady stream of tomatoes, and a final batch of peppers that are setting, and well as a healthy number of tomatillos on those plants. Ideally, I'll have enough of those three things to justify canning a batch of salsa. 

I've also started a round of 'fall' vegetables...a few pots of kale and Swiss Chard, before ripping out some under-producing tomato plants, mixing in some new soil, and planting a few rows of turnips, something I have never planted before.

I'll probably leave some close together, for greens production, and thin some out for actual 'turnip' production.  


Not a bad opening act.

Last night, my wife went and caught a band at the Benton-Franklin Fair.

I like me some Montgomery Gentry.  They are rocking enough for anyone, but about 1.5 steps more 'traditional' than some of the current crop of 'country' artists getting their songs played on the country stations now.  Mostly, I feel the difference is that the songs Montgomery Gentry sing seem to be about something while current Top 40 seems to be a contest to 'Out Red-Neck' each other...the songs all seem to be about getting drunk and crazy around the bonfire. 
It's not our first time seeing MG...we saw them a few years ago at the Puyallup Fair. 
It was our first time seeing their opening act, though. 
Typically, in overly simplistic terms, an opening act falls into one of two categories: 'up and comer' or 'past their prime, but still enjoy performing, and willing to settle for a shorter set just keep experiencing the rush'. 
You could say that the opening act last night fell into the 2nd category, but he put such a great show, it's hard to think of him as 'past his prime'...Eddie Montgomery's younger brother, John Michael Montgomery.  At the height of his popularity in the early/mid-90s, he had the #1 selling country song two years in a row: 'I Swear', and 'I Can Love You Like That'.  In total, he had 5 #1 songs, and over 30 top 40 hits.
Things got rougher for him in the late 90's...vocal cord growths, a visit to rehab, and just the way country music shifted away from his sound.  He had a brief comeback in 2004 with a great song, 'Letters from Home', which made it to #2, but for the most part, he just seems to tour when he wants to, and sings where he can.  He played a great little 45 minute set, during which you knew every song.  I'm not going to say he sounded exactly like he did 18 years ago, but he put more feeling into his songs than I ever did.
In the end, you aren't going to get a chance to see an opening act with his resume very often.
It was a perfect night.  The last week or so, we have had some cooling...temperatures in the low 90's/upper 80's...and last night it was only 85 or so with a nice breeze when the show started.  Close to perfect.
And of course, country music has quite a reputation for attracting some attractive young ladies, and this concert was no different.
I was just lucky enough to bring the prettiest one there with me.


Target Identification

Bummer of a story out of Florida.

Woman shoots grandson; thought he was an intruder

The seven year old grandson is listed in Critical Condition...I hope for the Grandma's sake that he pulls through.  Whether he does or not, I don't want to be a meanie, but Grandma looks to be guilty of negligence: Failure to properly identify a target.  A hunter can't shoot into a rustling bunch of bushes because they 'thought they heard a deer'...a homeowner can't hear a noise in a dark house and fire a round in that general direction. 

This one is a perfect chance to learn from someone else's mistake. 


That might work out okay.

There had been a rumor floating around work that we might be doing a bit of a shift change, and today the company made it official: September 8th we will be rolling to a 4 X 10 shift...0600-1630, Monday-Thursday, with every Fri, Sat, Sun off.

It should work out more conveniently with hunting season coming up.  I won't have to burn leave time on Fridays, even though I'll get charged some extra time on the Mondays and Tuesdays I'm taking off. 

Also on the 'Yay' side of things: 20% less gas money each month...it will actually be a sizable savings. 

Most of the techs that work for me are pretty happy about it. Some of the other contractors on site area already on 4 tens, and so some of the guys have experience with it.  A few of the older guys just feel it is a LONG day, and having to be in to work at 6 gets old after a while.  For me, being a manager and having meetings that start before the actual start of work, it's really only an extra half-an-hour a day to get every Friday off. 

I'm eager to see how it works out.


And that is why I don't fix problems.

For...a 'while' now, we have had a loose floor tile in the bathroom.  A couple of weeks ago, I tried taking the easy way out, and just chipping out and replacing the grout around that tile...and that helped for a week or so.  Finally,  my wife was able to convince me to do the 'right thing', and just pull the tile up, and start from scratch.

Of course, things are not ever that easy.  First, roughly half the mastic stuck to the floor, and half stuck to the back of the tile.  And, there was a suspicious looking intermittent black staining on the subfloor, which is actually two problems in one: it's most likely some mildew/mold(not 100% unexpected having a loose tile on the damp bathroom floor), and, from everything I have read...I shouldn't be able to see the wooden subfloor.  The current standard for doing floors in bathrooms(and I only know this because I studied to fix this tile), is laying cement board over the wood subfloor.

I am lacking a cement board layer.  Bummer.

I'm not in a position to address this problem right now, either skill wise, or finance wise.  Problem noted, and added to the wish list somewhere in between a camping trailer/boat/or an outfitted elk hunt. 

Cleaning the floor wasn't tough, and it didn't take too long, as long as you don't count the drying times.  Cleaning the old mastic off was the only real sweaty part...and getting it off the floor was 18 times easier than  getting it off the back of the tile I had to reuse.  As I was using a putty knife and hammer to remove the old stuff from the back of the tile, I was constantly worried I was going to hit too hard, or at the wrong angle and break the tile. 

Once the mastic was off the floor, I gave it two doses of bleach, letting it dry overnight. Then I painted on a latex based sealant to protect the wooden subfloor until we decided to redo the whole bathroom, letting it dry most of the day yesterday before I finally laid some knew mastic, and set the old tile back in.  It's currently setting in the bathroom with a 5-gallon bucket full of something on it, weighing it down.  I'll let it set a good 36-48 hours before grouting it.

The only real negative with the process(other than learning I will need fix the whole floor at some point(or sell the house!) is that it takes the upstairs bathroom mostly out of business for a several day period, meaning no soaking bubble baths for me while the wife and kids are out of the house...just the downstairs shower stall. 



Well, if there is a silver lining...

Not that I am ignorant, or don't appreciate 'current events', but I'm going to admit to playing only peripheral attention to the events in Ferguson, Missouri.  The attention that I have been paying is because the headlines(which yes, I know are designed to catch your eye) made me check to see if Ferguson was a strangely named town in Irag, or if it really IS a town in Missouri.

To me, it sounds like just another sad story.  Is it possible that the police overreacted?  Sounds like it.  Was this young man who was shot a pure as the driven snow like he was originally portrayed to be?  Nope. 

Is this story exposing the fact that there is a HUGE amount of latent anger looking for a chance to explode in our country?

Boy Howdy. 

One of the more interesting stories that I have read is by a young man of color named Rembert Browne who writes for a website called Grantland, which is predominantly sports and pop culture website(which is why I was there in the first place).   Being not quite young anymore, and having never been a man of color, I found it insightful, especially how things just kind of 'happen' when you get a crowd together...and how a group of protesters can evolve(or be shaped by outside influences) in to a riot. 

Here is hoping that things are starting to cool down a bit.  Sending in the State Police and forcing the locals to take a step back is a step in the right direction...help remove some of the emotion from things. 

It's a sad story, with minimal chance of a happy ending.  The only possible positive to come from this is the attention being drawn to something you and I have known about for a while now...the increasing militarization of the Every Town USA Police Department.  The increasingly realization that while there is a 99.98% chance that the individual officer driving a cruiser in your neighborhood is polite and helpful beyond belief, Police Departments as an Institution are increasingly willing to take a hard stance against anyone questioning their authority. 

My wife, who is more 'across the board' in her politics than I am, noted that on facebook, both her 'right wing wacko' and 'left wing wacko' friends have arrived at the same conclusion, and post the same pictures and memes about out of control police on their pages.  That has to mean something. 

The question is, what?  And, will it matter?  Will the sight of 150 armored police officers and armored cars with mounted machine guns on them stay with people long for them to want to change anything? 

We are already in the heart the NFL's preseason.  Distracting shiny objects are always on the horizon. 


It was worth it.

Sorry for the lack of content yesterday...most of my time ended up being spoken for last evening.  It was all good stuff...it was just a hopping evening.

I came home to a kitchen in chaos, as my wife was busy canning the 30 pounds of peaches she had ran out and picked with the girls Monday morning.

14 quarts of peaches is a nice thing to come home too...not to mention the aroma.  Very nice.

Then I had to get busy in the kitchen.  We were planning on doing a lunch for a guy that was leaving today, and the main course was going to be pork loin on the Traegger. We have a guy that usually takes charge in these situations, but this time around he asked for my opinion on how I usually do pork.  He tends to prefer spicier, garlic centric seasonings, and I told him I usually prefer something sweeter and fruitier for my pork.  In the end, he ended up giving me some of the money that us managers kick in for the meat, and I picked up two whole loins to do my way.

Well, I didn't quite do them my usually way...but then again, I am used to playing with tenderloins, not loins.  To keep them moister, I went a little crazy.  To make them easier to work with, I cut them in half first, and then proceeded to 'unroll' each half...basically turning a round loin into a flat sheet of meat.  Next they went into a brown sugar, molasses, apple cider, apple cider vinegar brine for a few hours. 

While the pork brined, I prepared a dried fruit filling to put in each of the loins.  I put some apricots, apples, and raisins that we had dehydrated at home in sauce pot with some water, white wine, fireball, and chicken stock to rehydrate them.  After about 3 hours of soaking in the brine, I dried them off, and placed a nice amount of the fruit in each one before rerolling them and tying them up.

Folks...it was a pain in the rear.  Doing on normal size one for a nice family dinner...probably not bad.  Doing up 20 pounds of pork loin that way was a sticky, sticky endeavor.  Between the pork rolls and the peaches, the kitchen was pretty tore up. 

It was a good excuse to pick up a few pizzas for dinner, and since we were doing pizza, we decided to make it a family movie night.  The sappy guy in me picked Jumanji, to get my Robin Williams fix.

As for the pork loin...it went over pretty well at work...but then again, you can throw anything on the Traegger for 4 hours and it will taste pretty okay.



The world got a lot less funny today with news that Robin Williams has passed away in a possible suicide. 

I mean...Robin Williams.  Being born in the mid-70s, Robin Williams has been in my wheel house for as long as I can remember.  From good clean fun on Mork and Mindy, and Mrs. Doubtfire, and Aladdin(the Genie is dead!?!?!?!?), to the serious in Good Morning, Vietnam, and the seriously underrated Awakenings with Robert De Niro, and Good Will Hunting, and Dead Poets Society, and even the head scratchers like One Hour Photo...he was everywhere.

And then...the manic comedy. 

This clip is of my favorite.  I'll warn you, it's filthy as all get-out, so if certain 4 letter words offend you, just think happy 'Nanu, Nanu' thoughts and skip this.

Me? I'm drinking a toast to Mr. Williams tonight.


Awesome. The word is Awesome.

As far back as February, I was officially excited for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy.  While I have never read the Guardians of the Galaxy line of comics, I have read the Infinity Gauntlet stories, so I was familiar with some of the cast of characters, and excited.

Having spent the last week watch GOTG destroy August box office records, and reading the reviews, I could wait no longer, and my wife and I went and saw the early matinee Sunday.

Wow...what an enjoyably good movie.  A movie can be good without being enjoyable, and vice versa.  GOTG scores high in both categories.  It is the most thoroughly enjoyable movie that either my wife or I can remember seeing in quite a long time...and I'm not just comparing it to other comic book movies.  The last movie I can remember feeling this way after is Jurassic Park.  I would gladly drop another $30-40 to see it tomorrow with my wife. 

But, yeah, it's also a well balanced movie.  There is action, adventure, romance, and real characters who grow and change throughout the course of the movie!  There are talking trees and raccoons, and people painted green, blue, and magenta.  And you care about them.

Groot is a great character...and much has been made about Vin Diesel having to do a lot with a limited vocabulary, but Bradley Cooper, as Rocket steals the movie.  The timing is impeccable, and the human actors who share the stage with the CGI Rocket deserve a lot of credit for being able to banter with someone who is not really there. 

Chris Pratt channels every bit of Han Solo, and is destined for great things.  In any cast that hides people like John C. Reilly, Michael Rooker, Glenn Close, and Benicio Del Toro in supporting roles, some people are going to get lost, and in Guardians, I think that was Karen Gillan(but that's alright, she has a new TV show coming out, so I can get my Amy Pond fix). 

The surprise of the cast though, was Dave Bautista.  As Drax, while he gets to kick ass, he has some great moments of dead pan delivery, and pathos.  He took the bar for ex-wrestler and moved it up about 3600%. 

In a world where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brings in $65 Million its opening weekend,  box office numbers can be misleading, but I am willing to bet that GOTG in its 3rd week, beats TMNT in its 2nd week.

Especially if all of you get out there and do the right thing...Go see Guardians of the Galaxy!  I tell you three times!

Didn't know that was a remake.

Alan Jackson.  What a strange guy for me to figure out. 

Since the early 1990's, he has been one of the top male vocalists in country music, and I respect the whole 'keeping it traditional' thing that Alan has going. 

However, not once in all that time have I ever thought of Alan Jackson as one of the 'top' country singers.  He has just been consistently 'good'.  He never had the peak of a Garth Brooks, or Toby Keith, and if you want the model of consistency, well, he has had the bad luck of running up against the machine called George Straight. 

There is nothing wrong with perhaps being the #2 Country Singer of the last 20 years behind George Straight. 

One his catchy 'good not great' songs was 'Who's Cheatin' Who', released in 1997,topping out at #2 on the charts.

This morning, I had to run to Safeway bright and early, and I was too lazy to change the radio station, meaning I got to listen to the 'Legends of Country' show, and I heard this:

Hmmm...the same song, from 16 years before Alan Jackson did it, by Charly McClain.

Even more impressive(especially for someone who thinks Country Music was invented in 1989 by Garth Brooks), I think I like the original version better.  It has more emotional punch to it.

What the Heck did I just watch?

Yesterday, I ran out to do a bit more scouting of my elk hunting territory.  After perusing several maps, I tried a few different roads into the area, and I was able to get higher into the area than I was on my trip last weekend, and I actually got out and did some walking.  I didn't see many animals(only 3 does) but, I found a couple of promising looking areas.  Now that I have been in in the middle of the day, and figured out what roads go where, and which ones I can drive on, and which ones I shouldn't, I think my next trip will be right after work one day so I can see what is moving around at twilight.

I only stopped at one brewery on the way home, coming home with one 32oz growler as opposed to cases of beer and wine. 

Bale Breaker Brewing is located just outside of Yakima, and it's tough to find a place with fresher hops.  As befits their home in the middle of a hops field, they are big on Pale Ales and IPA's, which aren't always my favorite...but their Topcutter IPA was pretty tasty...flavor and not just cling to your tongue hops.

Upon arrival back at the house, my wife was just settling in to watch The Master on Netflix.  I was in the room for the whole movie, even if I wasn't always 100% focused on it...and I have to tell you, I have NO idea what the heck it's about, or what the point was of the movie.

Theoretically, from reviews, it is supposed to be about the early days of Scientology, and the character that Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays is supposed to be L. Ron Hubbard. That seems likely.  The story follows a alcoholic(mixes paint thinner and photo developer chemicals) sex-fiend sailor after WWII, played by Joaquin Pheonix who is having issues mixing back into society. Somewhere along the way, he runs in to Lancaster Dodd(played by Hoffman), who takes him under his wing, and makes various attempts to adopt him into The Cause.

So...yeah. That is the basic plot...but, it's just STRANGE.  And doesn't seem to have a point.  I am not dumb, and I am fairly literate and have a understanding of symbolism in literature...I just didn't get anything out of this movie.

Here is what I do know...it's not the actors fault's.  Hoffman, Pheonix and Amy Smart disappear into their roles.  Joaquin Pheonix does an amazing job of building this broken, broken man, while Amy Smart plays Dodd's true believer wife, who has just as much to do with pushing The Cause as he does. 

I don't know...maybe I am not as smart as I think I am.


Steve McQueen you ain't.

Sounds like justice is pretty close to being served already in this case, but...I'm willing to bet this chucklehead is going to do a little bit of jail time too.

from The Seattle Times.

Motorcyclist launches off Issaquah overpass to elude police

A speeding motorcyclist suffered serious injuries after launching off an Interstate 90 overpass Wednesday in an attempt to elude a state trooper.

The chase began when the trooper clocked two motorcyclists driving 22 miles over the speed limit and tried to pull them over. The driver of a blue motorcycle sped up to 100-140 miles per hour and got away, said Washington State Patrol spokesman Karim Boukabou.

The trooper chased the other bike, a yellow Ducati, for about six miles as the driver weaved recklessly between traffic and drove on the shoulder, said Boukabou. The trooper eventually backed off, but the motorcyclist continued on I-90, taking the Highlands Drive Northeast exit at speed and plummeting off the edge into the creek.

Boukabou said the fall is about 68 feet. The driver was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment.

It’s unclear why the driver didn’t stop, but it appears he didn’t have a motorcycle endorsement on his driver’s license, said Boukabou.

The Washington State Patrol is asking anyone with information about the second motorcyclist to call 425-401-7788.

Well, this is nice!

After finally pulling the trigger(like 6 weeks ago!) on buying a new router, our wireless in the house finally got bad enough(could not go more than half-an-hour without timing out of whatever I was trying to do)...and it was really starting to peeve off my wife as she indulged her love of British Television series.  With football season approaching, I finally took the new router out of its box, and swapped it out.

What an amazing difference.   For a while, my computer had been turning into such a dog, I was worried the problem might be the computer, and not the Wi-Fi.

I shouldn't have been worried.  It's like a whole new world with the new router...24 straight hours of internet connection!


No big surprise.

A few weeks ago, I posted about sheriff's deputy up in Spokane that got himself in a spot of trouble, putting his daughters doe tag on deer that she didn't shoot.  At first I took a position of semi-defending him...partly because it's theoretically possible I have heard hypothetical stories about other people doing similar things, and if I didn't condemn them, I couldn't condemn this guy...but mostly because he had been turned in by his ex-wife and ex-coworker who was now doing the ex-wife...it felt like a low class way to keep picking on this poor guy.

However, the more you read into the story, it became clear that this wasn't a once time, or even a two time thing for this guy, and at that point, it gets tougher to turn a blind eye to his activities, and slightly easier to believe the ex-wife's side of things(She said she was worried her daughter might get in trouble).

Anyway...today the Spokane County Sheriff's Department announced that Deputy Herrin was resigning effective the 16th, rather than get fired.  He has been with the Department 25 years, so while it is unwritten in the story, I am guessing quitting before you can be fired might save him at least some portion of his retirement. 

Still and all, a couple of dozen pounds of venison is a heck of a thing to throw a 25-year career away on.



A month or so or go, I received an e-mail inviting my wife and I to a Wine Club Appreciation night at Terra Blanca winery...an evening of wine tastings and 'light appetizers' to thank members of the wine club.  My wife and I agreed that it sounded like a great expense free weekday date-night.

Cue the laugh track...my wife and I going to a winery and walking out of their 'expense free'. 

Now, you will just have to take my word on this...but it was perhaps a perfect job of allowing products to sell themselves.  There was a perfect 'lack' of selling pressure.  I know for a fact that there were some folks there who were just tasting what was offered, and enjoying the crackers, chips, fruit and dips without buying ANYTHING.

No such luck for us, though.

Hey...I don't feel scammed or cheat...there is nothing there that my wife and I did not talk ourselves into buying.  One of the smart things they did was open up the 'back' wine library, so it was an opportunity to get some older wines(2002's) that had been stored in their cave's instead of in my kitchen.  That is three of the above bottles...a 2002 Syrah that my wife felt was to DIE for, and two bottles of their 2002 Malbec, which is the best wine I have ever tasted.  The final bottle, off to the left, is their newly released 2009 Batholith, a blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv, and Syrah, that was the smoothest, best tasting wine that they released tonight.

Plus, they had chocolate chip cookies! 

Well played, Terra Blanca...well played. 


We can solve this problem.

Whether it was on accident, or because they were on sale, my wife ended up coming home from Costco with two boxes of 'no fat' refried beans.

Luckily, I am prepared for situations like this, and with a couple of spoonful's worth of the bacon drippings I keep in the fridge, that whole 'no fat' thing is no longer an issue. 

More than one type of scouting.

In one of those happy coincidences, to get to Umtanum Ridge to go scouting for hunting season, I have go through Yakima, which brings me by something like 129 wineries, and 8 or 9 micro-breweries. 

Of course it makes sense to stop at a few(don't judge me...if I was really playing the game, I would have made a loop out of it and driven home via Ellensburg so I could visit Iron Horse Brewery).

On the way out, I only stopped at one place...Naches Heights Vineyard

I only tasted three of their wines(you got three tastes for $4)...a white table blend, and then two red blends.  It should be no surprise, that being a 95+ degree day, that the white was far and away my favorite.  The reds didn't taste bad, there was just nothing enjoyable about drinking them.  The white though(label name Can-Can) was great...sweat enough to go down too easy.  It's one of those 'wait a minute, didn't we just open this bottle half-an-hour ago?' wines. 

Also, the view down the draw from the winery isn't bad.

The breweries I left until after scouting.  Three tasting size samples of wine don't effect me...but I was worried if I started 'tasting' beer, it would quickly move past 'tasting' to drinking, which was not something I wanted to do prior to heading up on unfamiliar roads of unknown quality. 

Neither place I stopped at on the way home was a total unknown to me...I had previously tried one or two of their beers, just not everything they had to offer.

Yakima Craft Brewing Co. is a nice place, that is growing.  They recently opened a 2nd site, designed to be more of a 'pub', as opposed to just a tasting room.  However, I went to the tasting room/brewery, which was pleasantly full.  Rather than bog the bartender down asking for a tray of 4oz samples, I went with two half-pints....one of their Heather, and Bad Monk.

The Heather was one I liked better...an ale made with heather tips and honey, it went down good and smooth...I think you could refer to it as a 'session' beer.  The Bad Monk was advertised as a 'spicy Belgian style dark ale'...but I thought it was a tad bit hopsy. It could just be that my expectations for it were wrong...I was picturing a darker version of 'Blue Moon'.  At 9.5% ABV, it is NOT a session beer.

Snipes Mountain in Sunnyside was a nice surprise.  Sunnyside is one of those towns that one doesn't 'go' to.  You drive past it, and occasionally stop there for various reasons.  Snipes Mountain is now going to be one of those reasons. 

The other night, they had 7 beers on tap, and I only tried 3 of them...a porter, one of the three IPA's they had, and then their American Blonde Ale, which went really good with my pizza.  It's possible that the food impressed me more than the beer.  For the price of what I ordered, I expected a 'flat bread' type pizza, but what I go was something in between a medium and a large, with pepperoni, sausage, garlic and roasted peppers for under $14.  A similar pizza in the Tri-Cities would be over $20.   

I was pleased, and too hungry to take pictures.

I did take a picture of my complete haul after getting home.

Let's see...two bottle of Can-Can from NHV, the big growler is full of Rookie of the Year Rootbeer, from Yakima Craft Brewing, while one of the smaller ones is full of YCB's Summer Monk, a good Belgian Ale(and much closer to what I thought I would be getting from the Bad Monk.  The other small growler is Coyote Moon, and nice, nice Brown Ale from Snipes Mountain...but the box is the 'Good Deal'.  YCB is replacing their 22oz bottles with cans, so I was able to get a case of 12 bottles of their Twin Stag Scottish Ale for $36, with is about 50% less than I would pay for them individually in stores.

Always need to stock up when you can. 


The opposite of confidence increasing is...

Well, confidence decreasing, obviously.

After thumping my chest at going out Friday and finding some nice land to take my daughter hunting on(and plenty of deer in the area), Saturday, it was my turn.

In my case, finding land to hunt on is not a problem...most of the area my cow tag is good for is public land.  It's getting familiar with the land, and trying to find the animals on the land. This isn't the first time I have hunted on Umtanum Ridge, but it's been let's see...9-10 years, and in that time, conditions change.  There are range fires, and some roads are closed to give the animals more space, and some roads are washed out...things are just different. 

So, with the wife and kids out of town, and the season two months away, I figured it was a good time to go start doing some looking. 

Things didn't start out good.  My plan involved heading into the town of Naches and visiting the Forest Ranger Station Headquarters there to pick up an updated map.  But hey, it's the weekend when most folks are out recreating...why have the Forest Service office open?  Since I had already driven 2 hours, I decided that my old atlas was detailed enough. 

I'll remove the suspense...I didn't get lost.  I just didn't necessarily no where I was going...or how far down each road I was going to be able to get before things changed from the thin solid line, to the thin dotted line...which makes a difference.

Now...it doesn't translate well to due to the lack of scale, but trust me...these ruts winked at me and I swear they said 'we eat F-150's for breakfast, son'.  And I believed them.  When you worry about staying out of the ruts more than you worry about the sage brush growing along the side of the 'road', your truck looks like this at the end of the day.

It wasn't a wasted trip...I learned things, which is mostly that the roads up there are in much worse shape than they are on Bethel Ridge where I have been hunting the last few years.  Luckily, I have time to prepare.  I can either go try to find a used Hummer, or start doing some walking, acknowledging the fact that I'm going to have to put in some actual mileage on my feet this year.

I wonder what I can sell to put towards a Hummer?



Vuja De

Many moons ago, when I was a young struggling sailor, I was faced with a choice.  I could do laundry, or I could go to Wal-Mart and buy more underwear.

Now, with the kids off at camp, I am faced with a similar quandary: I can go sift the cat's litter-box, or I can buy more litter to ADD to the litter-box(cover what is there).  On the gripping hand, I could do nothing, but by tomorrow morning, I would not be able to properly the scent of my coffee.

It's funny how history repeats itself.

The good news is, I have plenty of underwear to cycle through while I make my decision. 


Thank you, nice lady.

With the wife and kids out of town this weekend at Girl Scout Camp, I decided that after work Friday I would head out in the wheat fields of the 'Blue Mountains West' unit that my daughters doe tag is good for and make another attempt at finding some land for her to hunt on.

At one particular promising piece of property, I had pulled over to write down the phone number on the 'Hunting by Written Permission' sign when nice lady in a Red Durango pulled up beside me to ask if I needed help, because...well, I looked like I needed help.  When I told her no, I had just pulled over to write down a number, she told me not to bother, because it was her property.  'You just head down the driveway to left up ahead, and talk to 'Son' or 'Husband'...they control that kind of thing'. 

Just like that, I had been given permission to bring my daughter onto their 4,600 acre farm.

Well, almost just like that.  If I had been looking for permission for a place for me to go hunting, I am not sure they would have said yet...but the whole 'I already have plans for my muzzleloader hunting, I am just looking for a less crowded place to bring my 12-year old daughter' thing worked the way I thought it would.  The only requirement they placed on me was that we kill EVERY coyote we see.

Can do.

Nothing is ever a certainty in hunting(especially when a 12-year old is involved), but confidence is increasing.

I didn't even realize the last one was a little buck until I saw the picture.  All total I saw 17-18 deer, and three coyotes...not bad for 5-7 pm on a 99 degree day.
In addition to the animals, there was also a few minutes to just kick back and enjoy some of God's Country.
Two months to go.