Why?

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

6.29.2014

Moving on up.

For longer than I had planned on, our chickens have been living in a jerry-rigged pen, which was built in a hurry because I got tired of chickens pooping on the patio once I decided that the chicken tractor we bought was not quite big enough for 5 birds. 

In fact, the pen was SO ghetto, I guess I never even posted a picture of it,  so, here is an example of what my chickens have been living in for the last 10 months or so.  It's not white, I just took the picture on a frosty morning. 


Yup...some t-posts, some 4-foot chicken wire, and then I used the snips to cut a hole in the chicken wire to cut a door so we could mount the tractor/coop up to the pen.  After the chickens proved they could clear a 4-foot fence, we installed the bird netting...and it worked.  It wasn't pretty...but it worked.

Now, we have something that is pretty, and it works.


It's 10 X 10 X 6 dog kennel that we bought at Lowe's today.  After accidentally displaying limited amounts of competence assembling trellis's for the garden, my wife started talking to me about building a larger pen for the chickens.  It didn't take long for me to convince that that wasn't the best idea.  The leap from trellis's that don't have to be square to a pen that does, not to mention the price difference between untreated 1 X 2 and 2 X 2's for trellis's and treated larger lumber for a freestanding pen, well...it didn't feel like something I wanted to attempt.  We determined for roughly the same price, we could buy a kennel.

It still took some assembly...the only thing that came already together was the actual door for the gate.  Other than that, it took my wife and I about 2 hours to put it together...and man, if you ever want to test the strength of your marriage try stretching wire fencing around a 10 X 10 foot frame. 

We aren't putting a roof on it for now.  While the chickens made it over the 4-foot chicken wire, they have never made it over the 5-foot fencing around our yard.  If we did do a roof of some sort, it would be more to protect the chickens from outside threats. 

Of course, now I need to clean up the mess from the last run at some point. 

Maybe I won't follow the instructions next time.

The scarlet emperor runner beans I planted along my back fence are pretty far along now.


Because I followed the spacing/thinning rules on the package, I didn't quite get the 'wall' of color that I was hoping for, more of an accent.

Still, they are prettier than just a chain link fence.


Next year, if I decide to do them again, I might ignore the spacing guidance to get more color...it kind of depends on how the beans themselves taste.  As someone who is used to plain ol' 'green beans' it's possible I might not like these type of beans at all, so I won't care as much about overcrowding the plants. 

6.28.2014

25% is worth a warning.

With the growing popularity of backyard chickens, the Seattle Times ran a link to an article on a Bainbridge Island website warning about the dangers of chicken coop fires caused by heat lamps being in close proximity with wood chips.  The fire chief says that 3 of the 12 coop fires in the last year were caused by this problem.

There is nothing in the article that I really disagree with.  It states that the latest such fire just happened June 15th, and that it really didn't need to, because adult chickens shouldn't need a heater, which is true for Bainbridge Island.  A cold night over there is somewhere between 35-40 degrees.  Now,  you do want to make sure your coop keeps the birds dry in that climate.

Over here in Eastern Washington, I do run a heater for my birds anytime it is forecast to be less than 25 or so. 

I'm just curious what a burning chicken coop smells like...I imagine it's not a pleasant 'campfire' smell.

6.27.2014

Good timing.

Yay!  No rehearsal tonight!  Dinner at home with the family tonight! 

In a pleasant coincidence, I also decided that the first two zucchini were ready to come into the kitchen tonight.


Then they were chopped up and went right back out of the kitchen to the grill.


It tasted pretty good...and now that I have mastered the difficult art of growing zucchini, my family will never go hungry! 

6.26.2014

I'm down with that, yo.

I saw this headline during the few quick minutes I had to surf the internet today.

Shane Black Wants Chris Hemsworth to Play Doc Savage

There is nothing about that sentence that I don't like.  Shane Black is a writer, producer, and director.  His name is associated with things like 'The Long Kiss Goodnight', 'The Last Boy Scout' and 'Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang'.  Chris Hemsworth has been playing Thor, and it's not his fault the new Red Dawn was not as good as the 80's Red Dawn(critics gave him good props for his role in 'Rush', but I haven't seen it, so I can't comment).

As for Doc Savage...

I can't say I am a Doc Savage fanatic, but in my teenage years, my dad picked up 7 Doc Savage books at a used book store, and came close to ordering me to read them.  Well, he only had to order me to read the first one...the rest went down easy after that.  I think it is a character that should translate well to the big screen. 

I'll have to pay attention to this and see where it goes. 

6.24.2014

So, it's THAT time

Well, we are less than 2 weeks until opening night for the Mid-Columbia Musical Theatre's production of the Sound of Music...which means rehearsals are starting to stretch out, so we can get a full run of the show in each night.

It means long days and little blogging.  Sorry about that.

Through it all, I am really proud of my daughter...not just because she has learned her lines, but because she has been able to stay focused at each rehearsal.  She has like TWO lines, and they are within 10 minutes of the end of the show.   It's asking a LOT for an 8-year old to keep her eyes on the prize for 110 minutes, and then be ready to do what she needs to when it is time.  Heck, some of the 11-13 year olds are having hard times with that.

Of course, she is also great for the advertising.

6.22.2014

Well you see, there was this movie, and...oh, never mind.

As my kids get older, they are starting to notice things...like the lyrics and meaning of songs. 

Today while we were running around, the Warren Zevon classic, Werewolves of London. 

My older daughter asked what the point of the song was, and I must not have done a very good job of explaining why an early 80's movie about werewolves needed a hit song.

Eventually, I gave up.

Kind of like the producers of 'Last Ship'.  I SOOOOO didn't want it to suck(I mean, it has The Hero of Canton!)...15 minutes in and I am rapidly losing faith.

Catastrophic Failure.

There I was, minding my own business, when there arose a clatter of something heavy falling over in my garage.   I figured that maybe someone had let the kitten into the garage, and after a few seconds, I went to go see what chaos she had created. 

But, the damage wasn't the kittens fault...it appears to be time, and gravity...and an unexpected failure.


Yeah...the plastic lid on my gamma-seal totally failed. Like a lot of folks, we use plastic buckets and easy to close gamma-lids to store stuff we want to stay fresh.  Also like a lot of folks on the internet, we stack our buckets, usually 3, maybe 4 high.  I don't load my buckets to failure...there isn't one of them that has a whole 50-pound bag of rice or beans in.  Truthfully, most of them are in the 20-25 pound range, and so, I didn't think I was stressing the system to the point of failure.

It is summer now, and the buckets are in the garage, where temperatures fluctuate, increasing fatigue on the lid.  I guess I might need to look at placing a layer of plywood/MDF in-between layer my buckets to spread the load more evenly.  

6.21.2014

Gut Bombs Away!

Tonight for dinner, we went to the #3 Hot Dog place in the U.S(per Esquire Magazine), Between the Buns in Kennewick. 

We have eaten at Between the Guns before, and I say Gut Bomb with the highest level of respect possible.


On the left we have The Texan: A hot link, chili, cheese, and jalapeno's.  On the right, it's the Mac Daddy Dog...a bacon wrapped dog with Mac and Cheese, and a sprinkle of extra bacon. 

Yum.  And a little bit 'uggg'.  I wasn't able to clean my plate.  I feel so lame.  Works of art like that deserve better than I gave them.  In fact, the only thing better looking than those dogs, we my companions for the night.


Except for that wind thing...

Early on in our marriage, my wife and I made a commitment to 'going out'.  We didn't want to lose each other in jobs and raising kids.  To be un-elegant about it, I felt that I didn't get married to have kids...I got married because I couldn't bare the thought of not spending the rest of my life.  Our kids(whom I love and am ever amazed by) are a by product of that...and at some point, sooner than I think, it will be back to being just my wife and I. 

We didn't want to wake up that morning and find out that we had become strangers to each other, and that the kids were the only reason we had stayed together. 

It wasn't always easy.  Baby sitters aren't always cheap, and for a while living in Belfair, finding 'something to do' meant driving 30-40 minutes...and that was after driving 30-40 minutes to pick up, and then drop off, the baby-sitter(getting baby-sitters old enough to drive themselves is one of the best pieces of advise I can offer new couples...SOOOO much easier).  Sometimes instead of the monthly dates we hoped for, it would stretch 3-5 months before one of us said 'We need to get a sitter this weekend'.

All of this is just set-up to brag about how nice it is to now live in wine country, with a daughter who is mature enough to be left home alone with her sister for a time.  We try not to abuse her too much, and we do pay her when we leave her with her younger sister...but it's nice.  It means instead of dates every 4-8 weeks where I am falling asleep at 11pm, we can go out every 2-3 weeks for shorter/earlier dates.

Like yesterday.  Now that summer is here, several of the local wineries are having bands in to play on their outdoor patios....and the nice thing, is that most of the time, these bands start at 7ish, instead of 9-10ish, meaning we can split a bottle of wine, and still make it home before we are pushing my daughter past our comfort point.  Sweet deal.

Thomas O'Neil Cellars is one such place, having the advantage of being two minutes from our house(three if we hit the light), and last night my wife and I went to see a band called Badlands.  Pretty good band...we will definitely keep an eye out for them again.  The two ladies that handled most of the singing did a lot of Heart, Fleetwood Mac, and Pat Benatar.   It was mostly 'classic' rock, but they did work in some Melissa Etheridge, Pink, and 'Hey Jealousy' by the Gin Blossoms(which I don't think of as 'classic, but holy crap, it's been 25 years since it was released on their first CD).

They deserved better than what they got, which was the only real negative for the night.  A front was passing through, and while day-time highs were a pleasant 85ish, winds in the evening kicked up to a fairly steady 22-28mph.  This not how I normally style my hair.

 
 
I felt worse for my wife.  It takes me 4.7 seconds to brush my hair before leave the house.  She spent over 20 minutes on her hair, and after being outside for 5, she looked like she was in a 80's rock video, and she was digging her purse for bobby-pins to keep it out of her wine.  The wind was fairly refreshing while the sun was up, but when it ducked behind the hills there was a 'in this really the end of June?' chill to it(yes, in two weeks or less I will be sniveling about the 95+ degree weather). 
 
I was almost relieved when we had to leave at our pre-arranged time to make it home to our daughters.  It was certainly a convenient excuse to warm up. 
 
 
 


6.20.2014

Heck, I was going to vote for him anyway.

Hat tip to my wife on this one, as I didn't see this story when it came out earlier in the week. 

So, one of the big political deals going on in Washington right now is that Doc Hastings, an Eastern Washington Congressman for the last 20 years, is stepping down.  From a purely selfish point of view, Doc Hastings has been good for Hanford, meaning good for my job security.  Other than that, I can't really find any major things that he has done the 20 years he has been in Congress.  I guess he for the most part, he has been one of those 'Good Joe' type politicians...he holds local meetings, listens to his constituents, and by his voting record, he generally appears to vote the flavor of Eastern Washington.

Competition to replace Doc is quite fierce right now, with 12 people official candidates currently in the race.  I'm not sure the local media has decided to make up our minds on who the  front runners are for us yet, but, I already know who I am voting for. 

 House candidate Clint Didier offers to give away three guns

Now, like I said, I was intending to vote for Mr. Didier anyways, but...that didn't stop me from going to his site and registering for a chance to win.  I would link to his campaign site, but that might end up being counter-productive to my chances of winning.  Oh fine...here...like the 8 people reading this is going to drastically alter my odds...

Now, I'm not going to go say that Clint Didier is a perfect candidate.  Let's face it...in the end, the only perfect candidate for me, IS me. Even Dr. Paul, who allowed Clint Didier to introduce him during his last campaign trip to the Tri-Cities, is not perfect.  Clint is pro-life and 'marriage is between a woman and a man'...which I am not.  It's one of those situations where I am willing to take those negatives for his Smaller Government, Pro-2nd Amendment side.  I don't want anyone to think I am complacent, but I really think that Equal Rights for Homosexuals is going to do quite alright without the support of one Central/Eastern Washington Congressman.

Primaries are coming up at the beginning of August...time to make sure you are registered!

6.18.2014

My dad wasn't that cool.

Emerald Ridge student, dad arrested after sheriff’s deputies say pot brownies made teens sick at school

Okay...maybe the dad is dumb, rather than cool.  It does make me giggle just a little bit though.  I so na├»ve when it comes to drugs that I didn't know you could run a 'THC Oil Extraction Operation' in your house. 

My wife does agree with the sheriff in the news story though...this is the tip of the iceberg. 

Grrrrrrrr.

Local sailor ordered to be in court, despite being out to sea

Obviously, as a former submariner, I might be biased on this one...but as near as I can tell, the judge is being a HUGE jack-ass on this one. 

The birth mom's case on this one seems to be 'since he is out at sea, he is not raising our daughter, so I want her back'. Ignore the fact that the step-mom has been raising the little girl since she was 2 years old...I mean, it's not like this girl is being left with a nanny, or even her grand-parents while the dad is out at sea.

But, that isn't the point of this article. The point of this story is Judge Margaret Noe choosing to ignore the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to give this young man a chance to show up and plead his case...because the whole point is he should loose custody while he is at sea.

Bunk.  Crap. Poopy-kaka. 

I went looking real quick to see if I could find some history of this judge, but came up empty. 

I just hope with one of the Seattle news stations picking this up, it might draw enough attention to this case to help.  More important, if things don't go good for this family next week, I hope they KEEP the attention on the case. 

6.16.2014

Ugg.

Well, my daughter and I made it home from L.A. yesterday in rather stress-free manner(other than having to be out of our hotel room at 4:30AM to get to the airport on time).

However, in the end, we went through 6 major airports and rode on 6 different packed planes in 3 days...and somewhere along the way, something(or maybe 16 somethings) got me.

I feel like hammered dog poop this morning.

And now I get to be the jack-hole who goes and shares that at work.

6.15.2014

It fits.

It's Father's Day, and I am in L.A. (for a few hours more at least), so I guess the song fits. 

I'll try not to get too deep, because we are airport bound soon.

Hope everyone has a nice day.


6.14.2014

And now, the waiting.

A few months ago, I complained about how tough it was to wait outside while my younger daughter went into a room without me to audition for a part in a local play.  The not being there to show them your support.  The not knowing how they were doing. 

Well today was even more difficult...because instead of being in a room with people that I at least knew for 5 minutes, my older daughter was hauled away for a little bit over 2 hours for her Jeopardy audition. 

And also unlike the Sound of Music audition where I was at least able to get a slight bit of feedback, my daughter and I are totally in the dark on this Jeopardy audition.  She thinks she did really good on displaying the proper level of knowledge, but she is worried that during the practice game play, she was taking too long to pick the next category and dollar amount.  I told her if that was really her concern, that was a good thing, because it meant she was getting a lot of answers right.

In the dark we will remain too, because the fine folks from Sony said that while folks selected to be on the show will be notified by a nice Fed Ex package, the kids that weren't selected wouldn't know that for sure until they saw the show on TV without them. 

So, fingers crossed. 

After the audition, we headed the beach...Manhattan Beach, to walk the pier, and just enjoy the Pacific.  It was quite beautiful...upper 70's, and a stiff on-shore breeze that kept things cool.  Truthfully, I felt quite bad for the comely young ladies I was oogling.  It didn't quite feel warm enough to be hanging out on the beach in a bikini.  I do appreciate their sacrifice though.

I didn't get much oogling done though.  My daughter and I did some walking, and visited the tiny aquarium on the end of the Manhattan Pier.  It was a pleasant way to pass an hour, and at one point I had to blame the stiff breeze for my eyes watering.

Tomorrow, in addition to being Father's Day, is my daughters 12th birthday...and daddy is extremely aware that we are now 2/3rds of the way to 18.  A time is coming where spending an hour walking along a pier with me is not going to cut it as entertainment.  Heck, that point might already be here...but I appreciate her humoring me anyways.

Refreshed, Recharged, and rarin' to go.

My daughter and I both a good nights sleep in the hotel room, which was nice after the day of airports and plane's we had yesterday.

Special props to the Crown Plaza where we are staying for leaving this bunch of freebies on the bed.


Now, I'm not sure if those balms, creams, and oils really helped...but I did go to bed smelling right purdy. 

Then this morning, since the Jeopardy auditions aren't until 11:30,we(I) decided we should go out for a good breakfast, then my daughter could come back to hotel room to shower and get ready.  Through the magic of Yelp, I picked a place called The Serving Spoon

My oh my.  This was not the kind of food one could get back in the Tri-Cities.  I'm by no means an expert in what grits should taste like...but I liked the ones that came with my breakfast this morning. 

Meanwhile, my daughter decided to go big, or go home.


Not quite the traditional Chicken and Waffles...but it tickled her fancy to be able to get fried chicken with her breakfast...and I'm here to tell you, that the chicken wing I stole from her was the best chicken wing I have had...in...I want to say EVER.  The only chicken I have ever had fond memories of was a place we used to eat at in Texas called Church's Chicken...and that was several decades ago now. 

I'm tempted to tell my daughter we need to go back there tonight for dinner so I can try their red beans and rice.  It was a good, good breakfast. 

Out the door soon for her audition. Fingers are crossed.  It's going to be a tough wait for daddy...I don't think the auditions take place in a venue where I get to watch them. 

6.13.2014

Glad I don't have to do that again...until Sunday.

What a day.  Traveling just has a way of wringing you out.

The day started out smooth enough.  One of the nice side benefits of flying our of small airports like Pasco is that the TSA folks seem like actual human beings.  Heck...they close the whole 'security check point' up for 30 minutes every two hours. Very mellow anal probing.

Then, due to windy conditions on the coast, our first flight from Pasco to Portland was delayed 20 minutes. 
Did I mention we only had 50 minutes scheduled layover in Portland?  Scheduled.  The reality is that we got off the plane 34 minutes before our next plane was scheduled to depart.

A mad dash through the airport ensued, the only positive being that I wasn't tempted to spend too much money for a beer in an airport bar, while my daughter looked at me sadly across the line.  We did get to the plane in time...heck, two parents were still struggling with strollers when we got there. Plenty of time.

When the plane arrived in San Francisco, I figured we were in for another challenge.  As we walked up the sky bridge into the terminal, we had 38 minutes until the next plane departed.  Not started boarding...departed.  But heck...that 4 minutes more than last time...we might actually get to pee. The only issue was that my boarding pass didn't list the gate, so I had to ask one of the helpful Alaska Airlines folks, who told me 'oh, that flight is run by American Airlines...you need to go out past security, and then it's a quick 5 minute walk into Terminal 2, where you can find that gate'

I almost swallowed my tongue....and he wasn't kidding. To make our connection, we had to totally LEAVE one terminal building, and the go back in through the security line at another terminal building.

Somehow...someway...we made it.  We made it because I drug my daughter along by the wrist, and I didn't bother to put my belt back on after we made is past the cavity search.  We ran the last 50 yards...me holding three bags and my daughters wrist in one hand, and keeping my pants up with the other, as they announced 'last call for boarding', and named us personally on the final warning.

We then sat in the plane for 20 minutes before it started moving.

Bastards.

Through it all, my daughter was a champ.  Luckily she had a bowl of cereal for breakfast, because due to our rushed connections, she had to make it the rest of the day on just a little bag of snack mix.  Even as we waited in line at Dollar Rental Car for 64 minutes before getting our rental, she was a trooper. 

It's amazing what monkey bread can do to turn a day around.


I suspect we are both going to sleep good tonight.

Feels...not good.

Heading to the airport in a few minutes to take my older daughter to California for her Kids Jeopardy audition. 

Because we are only going for two nights, and also because we have two connections to make(Pasco to Portland, then Portland to San Fran, then San Fran to L.A.), oh, AND it costs more, we are not checking luggage.

The negative is, everything we pack has to make it through security...so I am heading out in a second with NOTHING on me.  No knife, no multi-tool, no fingernail clippers. 

I don't like it.  I don't like it at all. 

Maybe I'll blame that strange feeling on the fact that it is Friday the 13th. 

6.12.2014

Of course, there IS a negative side...

Yesterday, the Special Hunting Permit results posted on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website, and I am pretty stoked. 

First off, I am going to get the opportunity for a quality deer hunt with my daughter.  As a youth, she is able to shoot a white-tail doe in most of eastern Washington...but, the problem is, the white-tail population shades to the north.  To get to the part of the state where the white-tails outnumber the mule deer, it's about a 4 hour drive...where as it's only an hour, hour and a half to prime mule deer country.  And so, my daughter was able to draw a tag which let's her shoot ANY doe, white-tail or mule deer for the hills around Walla Walla, which are positively teaming with deer.

Now the challenge will be finding a nice farmer to let us his property.  While there are several thousand acres of 'feel free to hunt' land in that area...there are several thousand hunters who swarm into that area during modern season(it's one of the reasons I do muzzleloader now).  I am more than willing to trade on the cuteness of a 12-year old looking to shoot her first deer in an effort to get her access to a less crowded hunting situation.

As for me, I got selected for two special permits...first, I drew a 2nd Antlerless Deer tag, which is nice. Everyone in Washington can buy a deer tag, but the state opens up some overrun areas to give hunters a 2nd chance.  One of the nice things about being a muzzleloader hunter. Looking at the odds, you have about 30-40% chance of being picked in this drawing, so, I'm pretty happy being drawn for this type of tag 3 years in a row. The only difference is the last two years my tag was for the Pomeroy area, and now this year it's for Colfax, which is about 60 miles north of Pomeroy. 

Finally, in a quite surprising turn of events, I was selected for a cow elk tag in the Umptanum area.  It's surprising because I just drew a cow tag the year before last...and the way preference points work, it's typically 5-7 years in between being selected for an antlerless elk tag.  See...each year you earn a 'preference point'...and the number of entries you get in the lottery is the square of how many point you have...so I had 4 entries in the lotto, and was going up against guys with 25-36 entries.  So...hurray for me!

There is a glass-half-empty side to this bounty of special tags...none of these hunting areas are really close enough to each other to cover on the same scouting trip.  To get properly ready for these seasons, I'm going to have to put some decent mileage on my truck, and I won't have a lot of August/September weekends with nothing on the schedule. 

6.11.2014

It's like candy.

Once upon a time, I was not the biggest fan of beer.  Oh...I know. Crazy, right? 

Back in that day and age, I was actually known to occasionally drink wine coolers(I mean, I guess I could have just not drank alcohol, but I was a sailor!).  Then in 1999 that all changed with the introduction of Mike's Hard Lemonade.

Holy Moly did I like that stuff...and sneaky as hell.  It went down SOOOOOO easy...and it wasn't until you tried to stand up after drinking 4-6 of them that you realized how hammered you were.  Of course, that fact that it's light flavor set it up as a perfect summer drink, when you were already kind of sweating and dehydrating, might have helped that effect out.

I think I lived off Mike's for 3-4 summers, then I moved on to more sophisticated flavors...hard ciders, light beers, and shandy's.

Then at the store today, I saw a 23.5 oz can of Mike's Hard Lemonade...and I threw it in my basket. 

Talk about a quick way to destroy an evening.  Today felt longer than it was...we managed to cram 1.5 hours worth of work in a 9-hour day...but most of that down time was spent waiting/scheming out in the sun...it makes for a long day.  A dehydrated day.

Man, it's just like old times! 

6.09.2014

I can wait. I can wait.

The garden is almost there...I've had flowers on several of the plants(squashes, tomatoes, pepper's, tomatillo's) for a week or two now. 

Today, I found that I now have the next step past flowers.

 
 
A wee little zucchini.  With 7 plants, I'm sure it's not going to be the last.  In another month, I figure I will be drowning in the damn things.


This is more interesting to me...a cute little baby pumpkin.  It's growing on one of the small sugar pumpkin plants that I bought on a lark...in fact, this plant is my attempt at growing pumpkins in a container.  Soon I'm going to need to pick up several cheap pair of nylons for supporting the gourd as it grows. 

I think they will be easier to work with than bra's.

Repurposing.

Last year, when we still let the chickens run the yard every day, I bought some decorative green wire fencing, thinking it would keep them out of my garden, and maybe stop them from pooping on my deck. 

It didn't work, and in the end, the fencing was just an inconvenience for me to step over.  I eventually pulled it down, and it has sat in a corner, waiting for me to throw it away.  Until this weekend, when I finally found a new use for it, extending the fence upwards for my beans.



Truthfully, it's probably the least horrible looking solution I could come up with. Even then, I promised my wife it's just for this year.  If I put the beans in there again next year, I will know I can't use the fence, and I need to get some poles run my twine to. 

6.08.2014

Patience.

I know that you can't call something that comes out of the oven BBQ, but, you can call it tasty.


Friday, I rubbed this pork shoulder down, and then before going to bed last night I stuck it in the oven at 225 degrees. 

17 hours later it looked like that.  I use the same rub that Alton Brown uses on ribs...heavy on brown sugar, and then some garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, salt, and cinnamon.  The braising liquid is OJ, Margarita Mix, Worcestershire, and liquid smoke. 

Yup...17 hours.  No pulling was required...it pretty much fell apart on its own.  We had plenty for dinner tonight, and my lunch tomorrow...and that was after putting three one-pound packages of it in the freezer. 

The rage...it burns.

Ooo...look....another school kept safe by Zero Tolerance! 

Not!

PA 1st-Grader Accidentally Brings Toy Gun To School, Turns It In, Gets Suspended

So...a summary.  Kid leaves his normal back-pack at a friends house.  His mom runs into his room in the morning, grabs another back-pack, throws his lunch in it, and sends him off to school.  After lunch, kid notices that he has a toy gun in his bag, and knowing that that is not right, he goes and shows it to his teacher.  The teacher responds by sending the honest young man to the office, who respond by suspending him.

The lesson learned here?  If you have done something wrong, and you self-identify, the punishment is going to be the same as if you try to get away with it, and get caught.

Now, I suspect around here I am preaching to the choir about my disgust of zero tolerance rules....but on my facebook when I shared this story, I actually had a few people attempt to defend this action.  Oh...it's for their own safety! 

What if there was a dangerous situation and the police responded overzealously?

It's in the rules!  The teacher HAD to report it!   I hate this one...I don't want to play the 'I was just following orders' card but...yeah.  There is NO ONE that I know who follows ALL the rules ALL the time.  This was a chance for the teacher to buck up and reward this kid for coming forward on his own by showing some common sense and putting the toy in his/her desk.  Is there a risk involved with that?  Oh yeah...I'm sure of the teacher was caught not following the procedures, the teacher would risk punishment all the way up to termination.  I also suspect that when THAT story made it the paper, the teacher would be very fondly thought of by most normal folks, and wouldn't be unemployed long.

It's just...grrrrrrrr.  I even had one friend point out that another story said this is not this kids first offense.  He was suspended twice before...once for bullying, once for teasing. According to his father(not an unbiased source, but still...) the precious suspensions were for 'getting in an argument with a friend and pushing him' and then 'teasing on a school bus'.

And I think that might make me even more angry/disappointed than the initial story.  Back when I was a kid(get off my lawn!) I'm pretty sure I was involved in those type of situations on a monthly, if not weekly, basis.  Never once was I suspended for them.  Hell...I did a lot worse than that and I was never given detention, let alone suspension. This kid shouldn't have been suspended once, let alone three times! 

This seems like a good time to once again count my blessings that we home school.  Stories like this might not be the reason we home school, but it is a pleasant benefit. 


6.07.2014

Thank you, drive through.

Not much intelligent to say this evening.  Earlier in the day, we attended a going away party for some friends of  ours that are moving to Missoula in the morning.  I must say, I'm more than a little jealous.  Two years ago, we swung through Missoula on our way to Bozeman, and I must say, living in Missoula would be easy to handle.  Hell, living anywhere between Couer D'Alene and Bozeman would be easy to handle.  If I thought I could find a job between Northern Idaho and Central Montana paying...well, a healthy percentage of what I make now...I'd be there tomorrow. 

After that, my wife and I dropped the kids off at home, and I took her out for a beer, and some dinner. 


Since they have added food, White Bluff's Brewing has become perhaps my favorite place to go in Richland.  They have always had the best beer of the several brewpubs in the area...and while their menu is basic(a few appetizers, Panini's and flatbread pizza's) the quality has always been outstanding.  It might not be a fancy place to have dinner, but it's a fun place.  Tonight was even more fun because we ran into a lady from my wife's Bunco group who was having a few drinks with her husband.  While time out with my wife is fun, time out with a couple of other adults was pretty okay too.  Actual adult conversation. 

The only negative, if you can call it that, is that White Bluff's doesn't waste time on wimpy beer.  The 'lightest' thing they had tonight is a Red Alt at 5.8% ABV.  The tasty, tasty Ale Ferme Noire I had came right in about 8%.  End result?  I didn't feel like doing much constructive when we got home.

Luckily, I didn't need to.  Earlier this week, my wife found out that Amazon Prime had listed Band of Brothers as being available for free streaming, and neither of us have watched it before, despite it being high on my list.  We are watching the first episode tonight. 

These are definitely guys I could drink a beer with, or drink a toast to. 



What now, genius?

Along the back of our lot, we have a normal chain link fence that is roughly 5 feet tall.  Earlier in the year, in an effort to create an edible visual attraction, I plant scarlet runner beans along the base of the fence.  To keep the weight of the beans off the flexible portion of the fence, I ran twine to the top of the fence. 

Well, somewhere along the way, it's possible that I may have underestimated how tall those beans were going to be able to grow.


They seem to have outgrown my fence by a good foot...so far.  With it still being early June, I have to think they have a lot further to go.  So...do I let them just curl back down on the fence, or do I try to jimmy up some polls to 'extend' the fence upwards? 

I'll do some looking on the internet to see if it is even possible to get them to grow back down...I do know that it is not good to have them growing around each other to have them support themselves, like is going on in the picture above.

6.06.2014

Getting there.

Had a decent trip to the range today.  The only real negative is that I got to the range without a magazine for my Marlin 60 .22....but I did have a magazine for the 10-22, which I left at home. 

Luckily, we had other guns. 


Nah, that's not what she's taking deer hunting. More on this one in a bit. 

She is doing better with the .243.  Since the last time we went shooting, I have added a Limbsaver Slip-On Recoil Pad to the gun.  Yes, it's only .243, but it's also only a 6-pound rifle, and she is not that big of a kid yet.  I'm not sure how much the recoil pad physically helps, vs. mentally helps...but it does seem to be helping.  I don't want to talk to group size, but I'm fairly certain each bullet she put down range today would have anchored a deer.  Or at least scared it.  We still have several months to go.  My goal is to get her to the range ever 2-3 weeks, for 5-6 rounds of .243 a trip.  There is nothing to gain by pounding her shoulder to pulp with a 20-round range session.

Anyway...the Saiga.  I had her shoot it a few times because when I pulled it out of the gun case, my daughter said it looked 'dangerous'...and I decided she had to use it to convince her it was no more 'dangerous' than any other gun.  The collapsible stock actually made it more comfortable for her than she thought it would be.

As usual on trips when I bring my daughter, I didn't get too much shooting done myself.  A bit out of the Saiga, a few rounds of .243 to make sure the gun is hitting where it is supposed to, a few magazines of .9mm out of my CZ, and then just enough through my muzzleloader to dirty it up, and make sure the bullet is still going where it is supposed to. 

Good start to the weekend. 

Places to be, things to do.


First mission for the weekend...taking my daughter to the range.  Hunting season is only 4 months away, and I need to get her much more comfortable with her .243 between now and then.

6.04.2014

Looks can be deceivng.

This afternoon, while plowing through a pint of pickled asparagus, I did a double take.  There were funky looking white spots on my asparagus, which had been opened and in the fridge for about a week.


Hmmm.  Even though it was likely that I had eaten 6 or 7 pieces with the white spots on it by this point, I paused a bit.  It just didn't look right.

Internet to the rescue!  Obviously, I am not the only one with this question, as 'white spots on pickled asparagus' was a search string that completed itself. 

It turns out I was worried for nothing.  Not only is it not a bad thing...it's a good thing!  This answer comes from several sources on the internet machine.

The flecks are actually a protein buildup called rutin, a natural flavonoid in asparagus that sometimes reacts harmlessly with the vinegar. Rutin is created within pickled asparagus when asparagus is heated within an acid such as vinegar in the pickling process. Through this process, rutin is drawn out of the asparagus.

It then becomes insoluble in the vinegar and crystallizes on the asparagus. While most individuals think the worst, it is quite the opposite, as the flecks of rutin can have many great benefits. Rutin is a strong antioxidant, which can be effective against inflammation, cell damage and blood circulation problems. Rutin works well with vitamin C to fend off easy bruising, thin skin and unsightly veins.

Well, that's good, I would gladly trade funky smelling pee for easy bruising and unsightly veins.

6.03.2014

Giving the people what they want.

So, yesterday, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved a measure to raise the minimum in Seattle to $15 an hour. 

Yup...$15 an hour.  For ANY job in Seattle.

In case you couldn't tell...I don't think this is a smart thing to do.  Never in my life have I wanted to own a Subway just outside Seattle City limits quite so badly.  I pick a Subway because Dave Jones, owner of two Subway franchises in Seattle, estimates that raising his employees from $10.50 an hour to $15.00 an hour is going to cause him to have to raise the price of a sandwich by over a dollar. 

The only good news is that he will have until 2017 to figure it out, as they are phasing in the new minimum wage, with it taking effect in anywhere between the next 2 and 7 years.  If you are part of a large company(> 500 employees), then it's 2017.  If you own a small company, and allow for tips/benefits, then you have until 2021. 

Unfortunately for Mr. Jones, while his two stores don't have more than 500 people, as a member of a franchise, he is considered A Large Employer.

Good for him.  Welcome to the big time, you Evil Giant Corporation, you.

Sigh.

Of course, even this $15 minimum wage is not enough for some people.  Because the measure, as passed, includes a 'training wage' for teenagers and disabled persons, Kshama Sawamt, a member of the Socialist Alternative Party, who ran on the $15 minimum wage platform, 'denounced her council colleagues as corporate representatives posing as the progressive alternative to the Republican Party'.

Sorry...I just threw up in my mouth a bit after typing that.

Anyway...the part that really makes me laugh, is the people talking about how 'reasonable' it is that the council has decided to phase in this new higher minimum wage, instead of just dumping it on folks. 

I supposed that is one way to look at it.  Or, you could be cynical like me, and say 'look, they get credit for passing this measure, and now they are going to get to get re-elected before the worst parts of the bill start having a negative effect on the local economy!'



6.01.2014

Dad Chores deserve Dad Rewards.

A few(well, 6 or so) weeks ago, we bought the kids a 'swing disk' to hang from the big maple tree in our backyard.  In theory, it was an 'Easter Gift'...an attempt to justify not giving the girls baskets full of trinkets and candy(of course, Nana saw to that). 

In reality, I believe a tree swing has been a gleam in my wife's eye since we first saw the huge maple in tree in the backyard of our current house...a maple tree that was a buying point for my wife, a little bit of New England in Eastern Washington.

The wife was excited for a tree swing.  The kids were excited for a tree swing.  The only one not overly excited by a tree swing was the one who had to mount it...me.  Alas, today I finally ran out of excuses for not installing the swing.


Looks like it should get the job done.  Both girls, AND my wife were satisfied with the finished product.   I have to tell you though, having never done anything like this before, and I was quite surprised by what quality rope costs.  The rope cost almost as much as the swing seat, but I didn't want to cheap out on it just to have to re-rig it next year.  As long as I check the knots periodically, and test it with my weight, it should last until the kids grow tired of it.

As for a Dad's reward:

 
What a wonderful world we live in that you can get good beers in cans.  

Better get my tin-foil hat.

Yesterday, my wife and daughter went and participated in local 5K.  It's the 7th one for my daughter...the 'Girls on the Run/Girls on Track' program she is in has her doing 2 of them a year.

I get to accompany her on the fall ones, while my wife handles the spring ones. 

Not really sure how we got on that rotation...but it seems to benefit one of us more than the other.

Here is what my daughter and I wore last year, when it was 13 Degrees outside!!!!

 
Meanwhile, this is my daughter after she finished yesterday.
 


Now, I'm not calling Coast-to-Coast AM to complain about a conspiracy, but it certainly looks like I allowed myself to get the bum deal on this one.

Oh well.  Either way, I get to see smiles.