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


Now it's an 'Engineering Principle'.

In the STEAM workshop my daughter is participating in, her assignment for the week was building a 'gear car'.  The were given a little electric motor, a rectangular form, and a box full of gears, axels and 'fiddly bits', and told...go make a car that moves. 

When I got home from work, my wifetold me my daughter might need some help.  My wife and her had spent a few hours trying to get something put together, and they were having major issues with gear alignment. Basically, they were trying to put the motor in the middle, and have gears run both directions to the front and back tires. 

All I had to do was ask one question to simply my daughters life...'Does it need to be 4-wheel drive?'

That caused the light to go off, and she got back to work.  When I came back to check on her 30-minutes later, she was done. 

Her big concern was that her design might have gone too basic.  She moved the motor down and back, and went right from one big gear off the motor, to a small gear on her drive axel.  'It's not very fancy' she felt...at which point I educated her on the K.I.S.S. engineering principle.  I said...hey...if the goal is to move the car...will this design do that?  If the answer is yes...why make it tougher than it has to be.(the gear sticking out the top is just for looks.) 

What impressed me the most is he she dealt with an issue she had keeping her gears aligned. She simply doubled up the drive gear so that it didn't mater if the axel didn't stay 100% centered.

There are only two concerns.  While they have the motors, they have didn't give the kids a way to run the motor, so she doesn't know which way the motor will rotate...so we don't know if it's front wheel drive or rear wheel drive.  And then...there isn't much ground clearance.  If they test them on a floor....that's fine.  If they have a more...interesting test, well...she's just going to have to take that chance.


Stupid wild life experts.


I keep trying to tell myself that it doesn't matter.  That while it was technically deer season this weekend, I was going out to scout for elk season...deer was more a target of opportunity. 

Then I kept seeing those targets of opportunities. 

This might not sound like a lot for whitetail hunters who are out working over feeders or nicely groomed food plots...but I saw 12 deer before 0930 Saturday morning...and 5 of them were bucks.  They just weren't bucks with the correct number of antler points.  The area I am hunting in has a 3-point minimum for legal bucks...so I saw 4 fork horns and 1 spike.  A few of them would have taken some work on my part to get closer...but two of them would have been fairly realistic shots. 

So...instead of being home in my bed Saturday night...I had to camp out.

It wasn't bad...the weather was perfect for camping...not so perfect for hunting.  Overnight lows right around 50...highs right around 80.  Made for sweaty afternoon's humping the hills.

Action slowed down as the weekend went on...but the bad news is I still haven't seen any elk. 

The good news, when I go up Friday, the last two days of deer season ovelap with the first two days of elk season...so...positive thoughts...positive thoughts. 



Well, the truck is finally packed, and everything is tarped down.  Heading out the door very shortly to spend a few days camping/deer hunting/elk scouting on Umtanum Ridge.

Should have been out the door 5 minutes ago, but it's funny how those 'last minute things' like filling the cooler, and strapping everything down(and blogging) take longer than you think they will. 

I'm planning on being out until Monday afternoon, but I've got to say...I wouldn't mind shooting one today and never having to spend a night in a tent. 


Keep on chugging

It's that time of year again...pumpkin beer is showing up in the stores, and once again, I'm on the prowl for one I might actually spend money on a second time.  This time, I might have actually found one. 

Elysian's Punkuccino...a Coffee Pumpkin Ale. 

There is a lot going on here...but it all kind of works.  The coffee flavor is bigger than the pumpkin flavor...but that is okay in my book.  It doesn't have a lot of 'spices' to it, so it doesn't end up tasting like a Pumpkin Spice Latte.  It tastes like beer with coffee overtones and a light pumpkin flavor at the finish. 

I wouldn't mind buying this one again...I just have to decide if I want to drink this one again, or try on of the other choices showing up in the store. 

It's all fun and games...

Mom and dad are out of town...let's throw a party!  What could possibly go wrong!

Home-alone teen calls police on his own party

Hey...who hasn't been there?  Things become teen-movie cliché's because they really happen at some point. 

Kid decides he wants to be cool, so he invites 'a few friends' over while mom and dad are gone, and soon you have the local college kids crashing the party, and things are out of control.

Calling in the police is actually probably the best move he could make...even if it will hurt his social standing at school.  What else is he going to do?  I mean...the two extremes are using a weapon of some sort to chase folks out(and it sounds like he is way out numbered), or he crawls into his room and curls up in a ball under his sheets until everyone leaves.

The only thing I might have done different is I would have pretended to be a neighbor, or at least have asked the responding police to pretend a neighbor called it in, instead of setting myself out as the rat. 

Then again, I'm sneaky like that.


Well, there is your problem.

Earlier in the week, I brought my truck into the shop because the engine trouble light had came on...and I really didn't want to go hunting with some identified problem with my truck(turned out to be a catalytic converter temperature issue...need to let the truck warm up a bit more before driving). 

Luckily, while we decided a few weeks ago to sell our old Subaru, we haven't actually done much yet, so we have an installed spare I could drive to work for a day or two.

The only problem...car didn't want to start.  Heck...not only did the car not want to start, nothing came on.  Not unexpected...it's been sitting for about 3 months.

When I popped the hood, this is what I found.

Hmmmmm.  When I was in the Navy, we used to learn about a 'protective oxide layer' that would form on piping.  I don't think this is what they were describing.
After jumping it, the car idled fine for about 15 minutes, and I then drive it around the block to make sure a cylinder didn't shoot through the hood or anything, and let it run some more.
The next morning, it was dead again...but, at least the lights came on this time.  Another jump, and I was off to work. 
If you don't have a portable self-contained 'jumper pack', I don't recommend this course of action...but I do!  So, it all worked out.  Once jumped, the car ran...well not fine, but it ran enough to get me the 35 miles to and from work...which makes me feel much less bad if I end up selling the car to someone I know. 
This doesn't mean I'm not going to replace the battery at the earliest convenience.  I think it would be easier to sell the car without acid flaking off onto the ground. 


Oy Vey.

I've got a new entry in the 'Be careful what you ask for because you might actually get it' sweepstakes. 

I auditioned, and begged, and even prayed a bit to get spot in The Mid-Columbia Master Singers...and now that I have one, the hard work starts.

For the first time in, well...decades, I am on the hook to learn new music.  In German.  In just over 6 weeks.


This particular piece of music is over an hour long...and if I stop to think about having to learn it from scratch, I brake out in a cold sweat.  One of those things you just need to take a deep breath on, and tackle a little bit at a time. 



One of the many nice things about home schooling is that I don't need to suffer through school pictures taken in front of a back-drop.  Instead, my wife has a friend that is a photographer, who specializes in outdoor photography using natural light.

Yes...this is just an excuse to post pictures of my kids for you folks to fawn over.

I know...KNOW that from a biological standpoint, I had something to do with these kids...but it's tough for me to believe it when I see how they have turned out.
Lucky them.


And now you know.

Just in case you were wondering how far a chicken can stick it's head out of a chain link fence...the answer appears to be about 7.5 inches.

They do seem to like that fresh, growing grass.  I couldn't get an edge that clean if I tried...and the funny thing is that I do my best to get them fresh green stuff each day...handfuls of dandelions and clover that I allow to run wild in my yard just for them! 

Probably about time to have my wife and kids help me slide the chicken pen a few feet. 


My new toy/tool.

Hunting is not a cheap hobby.  Very few people can afford to buy everything you need(or want) all once.  If you can afford to outfit yourself to your hearts desire in your first year...well, God Bless You...and, would you like a new hunting partner? 

As for me...I'm the type who is lucky to be able to buy one or two new things each year.  This year, I decided to use my birthday back in May to speak to one of my co-workers about buying a hoist for the back of my truck.  For the past few years, I have been borrowing one from one of my friends, and I decided it was useful enough to finally get one for myself. 

Since each one is basically a custom build, there are some differences in each model.

I'm hoping I get a chance to try my new one out here in the next week or two.  It's not just useful for getting animals in the back of the truck.  Given the relative lack of trees in Eastern Washington, it's nice to have an 'instant skinning tree' in the bed of your truck.

It was for a good cause!

Last night, my wife and I took advantage of my mother-in-law visiting from Connecticut to stick her with the kids and head out for a date night. 

In the mood for something a little fancier, we had bought tickets to go to the Cuisine De Vin Fundraiser for the Children's Developmental Center, being hosted at Terra Blanca Estate Winery.

It was a surprisingly good time, and we got to act like grown-ups.  The big attraction for me(other than my wife) was, well...food, and wine.  15 local restaurants came in and set up tables serving up their one or two tasty bite options at each table...with each tasty bite being paired up with a suitable wine. 

Because I am not possessed of the most sophisticated palate, a few things missed me(not a huge mushroom or onion fan), like a salmon ceviche that my wife loved.  However, what I liked, I really liked.  There was one table serving a Smoked Pork Belly Taco with Mango Chutney, and then another one doing a  BBQ Pulled Pork on Cheddar/Jalapeno Flatbread.  My wife's favorite was a smoked salmon salad, which I admit, was pretty good...but, not as good as smoked pork belly. 

The wines were all excellent....and there is no way I can remember every type we had, or try to pick a favorite.

Because it's a fundraiser, there were lots of way's to separate people from their money, most of which gave you the opportunity to actually take things home, like a few silent raffle tables, and 'Mystery Wine' table, where you paid $25, and got to pick off a foil wrapped 'mystery' bottle of wine.  My wife and I picked up one mystery bottle(turned out to be a Smasne Cellars Gravel Bar Red Blend...looking forward to trying it), and then my wife and I learned a lesson about communication, when we won TWO different silent auctions! 

On the left, we got a new smaller wine rack, and 6 bottles of wine.  On the right, a gift basket with 2 bottles of wine, and a few gift cards for dinners. and flowers.  Luckily, we got outbid on a 3rd auction item...might have had to come home and start sticking things away for Christmas gifts.

I certainly had a warm, fuzzy feeling inside when we got home.  Whether that was due to the wine, the food, my date, or donating money to a good cause, I'm not sure.

I just know my liver can't afford much more 'doing good'. 


I'm there.

Less than two minutes of 'leaked' test footage is all it has taken to finally break free one of the most highly anticipated(to me at least) comic book movies of recent memory. 

A lot of folks had high hopes when it was announced that Ryan Reynolds would be playing Wade Wilson(Deadpool) in 2009's Wolverine: Origins. 

To call the reality a letdown is kind of an understatement.

THAT is not Deadpool.

This?  This is Deadpool.

There is a lot of debate about just how much of a leak this release of the test footage was.  A 'Deadpool' movie staring Ryan Reynolds has been floating around Hollywood for nearly a decade...and if this footage was released as an intentional accident to gauge interest in the project, it was a rousing success. I'm not sure a 'Deadpool' movie will quite the impact of a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' flick, but if they are able to make it for $40-50 Million, it will make it's money back. 

Anyway...for now, Deadpool has been given a February 2016 release date.  Might be a good Valentines Day date!


Why else would you go?

I haven't eaten a lot of Olive Garden the last few years.  It's not because I don't like it...if you want overly creamy, high calorie 'Italian Food', Olive Garden is consistently tasty.  It's not even because I have come over all kinds of healthy.  Nope...the real reason is that we only have one Olive Garden in the Tri-Cities(a community of over 250,000)....and the one we do have is a zoo from open to close. 

Seeing how packed our local one is, it's tough for me to believe that on a national level, Olive Garden is in increasingly deep financial doo-doo.(It's easier for me to believe that sister restaurant Red Lobster is in trouble).  But, the paper has been full of articles saying just that...and now there was one today about how a Hedge Fund company that wants to take over Olive Garden produced a THREE HUNDRED page report about everything that was wrong with Olive Garden(and how the can fix it if they are given a chance).

One of the main things...Olive Garden is giving out too many breadsticks.

HELLO!!!!!!!  As adequate as their pasta and soup is...their fresh, warm bread sticks are the best things that end up on the table.  If I didn't have access to 7 or 8 of them to sop up the pint of garlicky alfredo sauce that get's dumped on my fettuccini, I wouldn't bother to go. 

Maybe it's time to go stand in line for 45 minutes, to help prop up their bottom line. 


Get on board!

I'm not the judgmental type, but, if you aren't serving your chili over cornbread waffles, you are missing out.

It's nothing fancy...I just whip up a box of Jiffy Cornbread mix and instead of baking it as muffins or a square, you make a few batches of waffles.  I suppose if you were the motivated type, you could make a cornbread batter from scratch...but just think of all the people you are keeping employed by buying Jiffy!


Guess I should have cut my nails.

Took a quick trip to the gun range with my daughter this morning.  I had recently bought some new ammo(Hornady's Custom Lite .243) that I wanted to try my daughter with...and the results are pleasing.  Whether it is the actual lighter recoil, the psychological results of an advertised lighter recoil, OR the lighter, easier to stabilize bullets out of her 'youth' sized barrel...her accuracy was noticeably better today.  Heck she put three shots on target that could be called a group! 

She also got some more practice time with the shooting sticks I am borrowing for her. 

Because I wanted to get home and watch some football, I only brought two guns to distract myself while we gave the .243's barrel time to cool...my Taurus Snubbie in .32 H&R Magnum, and my Marlin lever-action .357.  Without a doubt, my lever-action is my favorite gun in my collection...but nothing is perfect, and I have a love-hate relationship with that loading gate...

Gosh, I am such a wimp.


But you can't eat pretty.

I'm 40% certain this is a repeat of a post I did a few months ago, because I find myself in a repeat situation from a few months ago, but I lack the motivation to look it up, so bear with me.

Pretty right?  Nice red flowers?  From that standpoint, I have been very pleased with the Scarlett Emperor Runner Beans I planted.  I picked them for two reasons, ornamental and practical.  I really couldn't be more pleased with them as an ornamental.  This is the 2nd time they have bloomed this year, and they are certainly nicer to look at then a chain link fence or the neighbors back yard.

It just...they ARE supposed to grow an edible bean pod too!  And while they are blooming at peak right now, this 2nd round of flowering has been going on for a week or two...and so far, it looks like I am not going to get any beans.  Heck...even a 50% setting rate would overwhelm us with beans...but I am looking at NO beans. 

Now...one thing I KNOW I did wrong was not 'pinching' the plants off...I just let the grow, and grow and grow...which is why they are all mounded over like that at the top.  I figured they would stop growing like normal plants, but...eh.  So...I am not sure that's what IS wrong, but it's one cause.

The other is my dirt...it's poopy-ka-ka, and I didn't do much to amend it before rushing to put in these beans.  I intend to fix that over this winter...do some research into what beans want out of soil.  Then I need to decide if I want to go with normal beans with white flowers next year, or if I give these runner beans and their red flowers one more chance with better soil next year. 


The perfect mistake

So...I had a plan.  I had two goals, and a plan to accomplish both goals.

Goal One: With the start of deer season two weeks away, I wanted to make one last scouting trip up to Umtanum Ridge.  Given some recent weather changes(lows down near 40!) I figured there was more chance of starting to see animals moving around then a few weeks ago.

Goal Two: I am trying to sell a gun I don't use much to someone that I work with.  The issue is he lives in Grandview, which is 45 minutes from my place, in the total opposite direction...so it's been tough for us to meet.  Working out at Hanford, it's not like I can just bring the gun to work and meet do the deal there...not a good career move.

With this being my first Friday off on our new schedule, the stars seemed aligned.  I would wake up early enough to make it Umtanum Ridge for the sunrise, and do some glassing and walking for a bit.  On the way home I would swing through Grandview, and meet my co-worker between 12-1.  Pencil it it...ready, break.

There I am...4:45 this morning, bombing along on I-82 west towards Yakima, when I get that 'You left the stove/oven' feeling, like I forgot something.  Finally, the feeling got strong enough that I pulled over to look through the truck.  Back pack?  Check.  Binoculars/Spotting Scope/GPS?  Check.  GAMO Whisper?  Yup, got that.  Spare clothes to change in to for visiting wineries/breweries on the way home?  Growler?  Check and Check.

The gun I am supposed to be selling?  Hmmmm...that might still be down in the gun safe still.

Grrrrr.  There were two things to do...forget about the gun for now, and call my scouting trip off early enough I can make it home in time to grab the gun, and then double back to Grandview to meet my buddy, OR turn right back around now to get the gun, setting me back an hour?

I made the 2nd choice.  The first way I would have added over two hours of driving to The Plan.  The 2nd choice meant I would miss the sunrise, but...okay.

But of course, things never take as long as you think they should, and by the time I got home and turned around, it was going to be almost 8 by the time I go back up to Umtanum Ridge.  Way past sunrise, and almost not leaving me enough time to get much hiking before I had to meet my buddy.

Instead...I made waffles.  And oh my, were they good.

As I am still looking to use up some rolled oats around the house, I tried this recipe from my hero, Alton Brown: Toasted Oat Waffles

Because it's an Alton Brown recipe, there are some things that appear to go above and beyond, like toasting your rolled oats before processing them into flour.  My wife took one bite and said that they were the best waffles she had ever had.  Very light, and savory and...yum. 

They will be made again. 


Oy vey.

So we started our new shift this week at work...4 ten's a week vice the 5 eights' we've been working most of the summer.  You wouldn't think two hours would make a difference...but it does...a huge difference. 

First of all...it's a LONG afternoon.  The old way we only had about 2.5 hours after lunch...now that whole two extra hours is added on to the afternoon.  Uggg.   But...the big difference is at home.  Instead of getting home and having a few hours to do...stuff...after work, I come right home either to dinner on the table(not complaining about that, trust me) or to helping get dinner on the table. 

The end result of that is that instead of being able to start something at 3:30, it's usually 6:30ish...and that's a big deal now that it is getting dark closer and closer to 7:30.  Not to mention a 9:15 bed time...

Oh well...when I get this Friday off, it will be worth it.

In other news, I was able to hit Sportman's Warehouse after work Monday, and pick up two boxes of Hornady's Custom Lite .243 load.  Looking forward to hitting the range with my daughter Saturday to see what kind of difference it makes. 


Stop me before I bake again!

I spent a lot of time in the kitchen yesterday...or rather I spent a lot of time running back and forth between the kitchen and the living room watching college football. 

Before even cranking out muffins for breakfast, I got a batch of dough raising, so the kids could have sandwich's at lunchtime(we still have a few more days left on our no spending challenge).  In addition to saving money and spoiling my family, one of my other goals for the weekend was burning through some of our rolled  oats(which is why I made an oatmeal based muffin for breakfast), so for lunch, I made an Oatmeal Sandwich Loaf, with the recipe from King Arthur Flour. 

See that...I even put the little split in the top of the loaf.  The recipe gives you the option of using either honey or brown sugar.  For this loaf, I used the honey.  Next time, I might try the brown sugar...or I might not.  I don't want to toot my own horn, but this bread came out fairly amazing. It will get made again, even once we decide to let ourselves spend money on bread again. 

There are no pictures of the bread sticks that I made for dinner.  I added flour, and added flour, and I just couldn't get a happy, easy to work with dough.  I also added some garlic powder and Italian Seasoning to the dough, as well as putting the garlic and butter on top. The end result tasted really good...they were just lacking in aesthetic appeal.

Finally, after all that baking, I decided a desert was called for...and sticking with my desire to use oats, I tried this recipe:  Frosted Butterscotch Zucchini Bars

They were good...and a good alternative to zucchini bread...but, they weren't as good as the World's Best Brownies

All that, and I got an excuse to watch college football all day!  Why not wait until today to do that? Because...it's college football...I don't need an excuse to sit around and watch that.



My wife is hosting 'Day 2' of a yard sale at the house this morning, so in my never-ending quest to prove that I am the best husband in her peer group, I whipped up a batch of Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins for her and her friends.(oh, and I believe my daughters and I had our fair share also).

They were really, really good...and for some reason, that surprised me, because I got the recipe off of the Quaker Oats website..and for some reason, I think recipes I find from sources like that are going to be very...I don't know...simple tasting...but these were great. 

I see another batch in the near future...and I think due to the moisture from the apple sauce, they would freeze really well. 


I think I'll pass, thank you.

I guess they are doing trailers/preview videos for everything these days...even new roller coasters, like the new Batman The Ride, being built at Six Flags, in San Antonio. 

Holy Moly...this just saved me a whole lot of money, because there is absolutely ZERO chance I am ever going to want to get on this ride.  I got sick just watching the video. 


That's one fancy club...

So, not to ridicule or revel in the pain of others, but I had a HUGE 'Better you than me' moment at the gun range this weekend.

A gentleman was there playing with a 'new to him' toy...and I'll admit, I felt a small pang of jealousy looking at him.

The bolt said Savage, and I want to say that I overheard the gentleman telling someone else that he had just bought the whole setup used, at something north of $2500(no idea what brand scope it is).  It would take at least three of my most expensive guns to cross that value.

The jealousy didn't last though...because this poor gentleman had 'An Issue'.  The 2nd time he pulled the trigger on his new gun, and worked the bolt back...this is what came out of the gun.

THAT is the last half-inch or so of a .338 Lapua Magnum shell.  The rest of the cartridge remained ever so firmly seated inside the chamber of the rifle.

Wow...what a bad, bad situation.  The owner of the rifle said that nothing sounded/felt different between the first round he fired, and this second round that he fired, and he didn't think anything was wrong until he pulled the bolt back.

You might not be able to tell from my cell phone picture...but that is one clean shear.

The lesson here is that if you buy a used rifle from someone, and he throws in 2 boxes of ammo he reloaded himself...it might be okay to dump that ammo someone else loaded, and just buy some fresh ammo...especially if you have already spent $2500+ for the gun. 


All Gone.

While we didn't have a full-on Three Day Weekend Cook Out, we did grill up some burgers for dinner tonight.  The burgers were as good as ever, but eating them was a little bitter sweet...as tonight we ate the last of the venison from last year.

Luckily, the start of hunting season is less than 4 weeks away.  It's theoretically possible that by Mid-October my daughter and I will have tagged two deer and an elk...theoretically.  There is a reason it's called 'hunting' and not 'harvesting'. Despite the fact that I have had good luck the last two years(taking 3 deer)...well, like they say in investing, past results are no guarantee of future success. 

I have faith in my daughter though...she won't let the family starve.

She's getting better.

Took advantage of the beautiful late summer weather(80 and a light breeze) to take my daughter to the gun range.  We are 6 weeks out from the start of deer season for her...and I will be doing my own muzzleloader hunting for over two weeks of that. 

Yesterday's main focus was getting my daughter some practice time with the Primos Gen 2 Jim Shockey Deluxe Trigger Stick Tripod a buddy of mine is letting me borrow.  That is a mouthful...from here on out, it will be 'the tripod' 

The tripod was taller than I remember it being.  I mean, I knew when my buddy showed me it that it got tall enough to use as a walking stick/standing tripod...but I could have sworn it collapsed enough to use it sitting also.  Not so much...so, we are kind of back to square one on technique while sitting...which just might mean we need to stand the whole time.

The shooting stick/tripod was a great tool to use from the standing position.  It's possible that since my buddy is letting me borrow it, that it might end up going elk hunting with me...so I can get used to it. 

What really impressed me with my daughter yesterday was her proficiency with our Walther P22.  She has used the gun before...but yesterday she was actually shooting accurately with it...I mean, not 'groups'...but repeatable results!  And everything on paper! 

I also introduced her to another new gun today...our Firestorm .380.  She was not quite as enamored of that one as she was the Walther P22.  I had warned her that even though the guns were close to the same size, the recoil was different...but she was still surprised by the 'snapiness' her first few shots.  However, she made it through one magazine, and politely declined the offer to try more.
I'm hoping to have one more chance to get her to the range before the season starts.  So far, we have been using an inexpensive .243 for getting her used to the gun and getting it sighted in...I would like to upgrade to something...premium.  Everything I have read says that with a 1:10 twist rate, I will need to stay lighter in the bullet spectrum...95gr-100gr bullet have trouble stabilizing. 
This Hornady Custom Lite Ammo with an 87gr bullet is getting really good reviews, and looks promising.