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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.


Thursday, March 31, 2005

a killer appetizer

we had the family (well, only about 30 of them) over for easter dinner. the week before, my wife was watching Paula Dean on the food network. one of the constants in paula's cooking is that it is going to be good, but not necessarily good for you, since she uses butter by the cow full, and other such goodies. that, and the mush mouth accent she has makes it tough for me to sit and watch for more than a couple of minutes. but di loves her show, so guess what was on the tv?
anyway, she made these pecan stuffed dates, wrapped in bacon. we looked at each other, and knew we had one of our appetizers for the upcoming dinner.

let me preface the following with a few comments.
1: the kids (teens) in the group as a whole avoided them, saying they looked like cockroaches.
2: use Medjool dates if you can get them. i bought several kinds, and the Medjools were big enough, and tasty enough to handle the pecan and bacon flavors. i got them at the supermarket in the produce section. they sell them in bulk, so pick over the dates to get the best looking ones.

Bacon Wrapped, Pecan Stuffed Dates

preheat oven to 400 deg.F

  • dates, however many you think you need for appetizers

  • pecan halves. i thought about using candied pecans, but figured the dates were sweet enough, and i didn't need to gild that lily
  • bacon. if you are using big medjools, 1 slice bacon per 3 dates. if using a smaller variety of dates, 1 slice per 4 dates

pit dates if necessary. the bulk dates i bought needed pits removed. that works because you need to slice the side of the date to stuff the pecan half in anyway.
insert pecan half.
slice bacon (see above for how many pieces per slice) and wrap one piece per date, fixing it with a toothpick through the bacon and date.
place in cookie sheet. i used a cooling wire rack in the cookie sheet, so that when the bacon cooked, the extra fat dripped into the pan.
bake in oven until bacon cooked. be aware that the bacon doesn't look completely cooked until it's almost burned, so just cook it until it's browned but not dark.

let cool a little and chow down. these were so good i had to go back to the store to buy more dates for the actual dinner party, because i made them the evening before, and, uh, well, they evaporated. yeah, that's the ticket. they evaporated into thin air. i made 2 dozen, and about a dozen and a half just disappeared. now i'm not blaming my wife, because she admits to only a couple. i just DON'T KNOW what happened to the rest of them.

i bragged about them at work on monday, and was challenged to provide samples for judging. that's how i know medjools work best, because i bought packaged pre-pitted Deglet Noor dates, and they were smaller, and to my taste, not as good in the finished product. you can read about the varieties of dates available here. i bought the best ones by accident, but it was a happy accident. so i made the proof batch and took them to work tuesday, about 3 dozen or so. they lasted about 20 minutes, tops. i heard several comments ranging from "those look a bit dodgy bud" to "what the hell are you trying to do, feed us bugs?". yeah, well i got the last laugh. 20 minutes. they are that good.

for a complete list of my online recipes, follow the link here

Two words — "I'm honored" — but they're stunners.

"It's good to see you." This would replace the pitifully ubiquitous "How are you?" Are there any three more overused and meaning-free words in our society today? For one thing, let's stop pretending we care, because we don't. With the exception of two or three very close friends and the small group of people who share my home and my credit-card account, I don't really want to know about your most recent attack of ulcerative colitis. I know it's bad, seriously, I do, and I hope you feel better now, but I don't want to hear about it. I just said "how are you?" because you're standing near the coffee machine, and I didn't manage to look away in time. But honestly, it's good to see you, and I really do mean that. (Also, in this age of voicemail, e-mail, and text messaging, much of the time it is good to see anyone.)

warren bell has written a piece for the NRO that proposes new phrases for use in conversation. pretty funny read.

the death of national autonomy?

i've listened and read many of the screeds bandied about regarding the role our country should be playing in the global arena. most of the opinions have ranged from "we should give up all sovereignty, and join the international community" to "get the hell out of the united nations". i fall somewhere in the middle, thinking that while we should not in any way abrogate our national identity and independence, there is a place for international organizations. while it may not be the united nations, some sort of medium to establish an international dialog needs to exist. but when international organizations like the world trade organization (WTO) impose sanctions against our country's exports, it's time to sit back and say "WHOA THERE NELLY". exactly how is it in our interest to allow the WTO, a non-elected international assembly, to override our congressionally passed laws? the law in question was passed to permit our government to take action against "dumping" practices that drive down prices to eliminate competitors. that a country has a standard of living that permits their manufacturing corporations to pay pennies to it's workers is not my concern. what is my concern is that countries like china or any other for that matter, that is capable of unloading massive quantities of goods on our markets at unbelievably cheap prices, does in fact impact us all. i'm all for cheap goods, don't get me wrong. but when these countries get together and come up with stuff like this, yet they impose the same sorts of policies in their own countries against american goods, i have to call foul. look at japan. they've had protectionist laws in place for years to help their farmers. ok. but don't then expect us to open our markets to your goods without some similar actions.
further signs our sovereignty is in jeopardy come from within our own government. i am drawing a blank on the specifics of a ruling by the supreme court, but they made a decision not too long ago that was counter to the constitution, citing instead "international" standards. that is NOT their charter. they exist solely to rule on the constitutionality of suits brought before them, not to pull in some obscure ruling from another country to use as a basis. hell in a handbasket, and it's a damned big basket.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

someone else who could be a twin

i've posted how i really appreciated joel's explanation of south park republicans in his profile. and along comes gus, with a psuedo faq with an almost verbatum description of my political inclinations. and of course, willy shakes is another one, but he's a bit flakey...being an english major working on his PhD (ping). now under ordinary circumstances, i probably would never have met or conversed with any of these gents. unless they were on a boat going through an upkeep at mare island from 81 to 94, when i was a shift test engineer, or perhaps on an upkeep in pearl when i was the senior nuke rep/test engineer for mare island. but that aside, i have to say the blogosphere has put me back in touch with the guys (generic) that i used to admire and learned from as a pup, and whom i might add, are not afraid to listen to an old salt. i've been on the internet since about 85, or what turned into the internet. i still remember how to log into pine to check my email from my first account. and using gopher to find stuff. and going to dialup bulletin boards to shoot the breeze and look at nekkid pictures.....oh, did i say that?
anyway, what i'm trying to say is that having a submarine website for 10+ years brought in less emails and conversations than having a blog for less than a year. and the quality of thought, and the inventiveness of humor keeps me checking my email to see if there are any new comments.
i even get a couple of hours sleep a night, between surfing the blogosphere and posting to my own.
life is good.

oh, and before i part. i've kept out of the whole "terri" thing, because what i think about it is my business. but i did hear a good line on the radio saturday night, delivered by an arch lib. i won't hold it against him, simply because the line is too good, even if i do/do not agree with his sentiments. "the folks that are fighting so hard for terri's life now will be the same ones that say she's in a better place after she passes away. this demonstrates the schizophrenia of their position." i always admire a well thought out and delivered line, regardless of what my own beliefs about the subject may be. but in this case, i am afraid i have to agree with his observation. the folks backing terri are ill served by the clowns the media interviews on location. i keep hearing banjos for some reason, and dammit, that looks like a snake wiggling under that dude's jacket.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

own a dodge truck?

posted without further comment. i've had this for a couple of days, and figured i better post it before i lose it.
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p.s. i have a larger version, hotlinked to the image.
hello visitor! i've noticed a bunch of traffic to this entry, and i'm curious to know where it's linked from, so i can visit. someone please leave a comment with the link, if you would. thanks

Monday, March 28, 2005

now THAT was pretty cool

i just got home from work. part of my drive was through the annual monarch butterfly migration. there were thousands upon thousands of them flying. i'm pretty sure they were monarchs based on the one critter that had the unfortunate luck to occupy the same space as my car's windshield.

i think this is the first time i've been in a car going through the migration. i've seen a bunch of them at one time, but this is the most i've ever seen. what's cool about them is they roost on my father-in-law's farm along the periphery, hanging out in the eucalyptus tress.


what a crappy way to die.

sorry. but it had to be said.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

a couple of time wasters

going to hell in a hand basket? have a seat on the hades express? not sure, but would like to find out? take this handy little quiz and find out for sure. i'm not telling, but it looks like i have a seat reserved on that train.

and for you artistic types that would like a little something to do while your brain is in coast down mode. a nifty art program. any picassos out there?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

and here's another one!

welcome to the newest subblogger, Rainman, over at THE DECK bLOG. welcome to the zoo! check out some of the other boat sailors listed in the index to the right. some pretty damned smart fellers out there.

a couple submarine memories bubble to the surface

engine room steaming phase of the refueling overhaul test program: we'd been in shiftwork for what seemed like months. shiftwork during that part of the overhaul was at least 8 hours on the boat running acceptance tests on the engineering plant using shore steam, preceded by at least 1/2 an hour of pre-shift brief (usually closer to an hour), mandatory training that never ever ever went away, and following the shift, we were getting additional training preparing for the reactor safeguards exam that we needed to pass to actually take our submarine out to sea following overhaul. so our shift time on to time off typically entailed 12 to 14 hours, if you were lucky, and that doesn't count the extra time needed to do your normal job. for me, it was all the admin and actual work required as the leading engineering laboratory technician. as section leader for my shift, i had to get the watchbill squared away as well. so imagine months of this. tempers were always short during stressful times, but stretching this out and out really cut the fuses to an almost instantaneous burn time.
"Engineering Watch Supervisor, contact maneuvering". "Contact" (we were getting a little sloppy there, but nobody cared. "EWS, find out what's going on in engineroom lower level. sounds like shouting."
"Maneuvering, Engineering Watch Supervisor, the noise in engineroom lower level is emanating from the engineroom lower level watchstander, pleading for his life. The Engine Room Supervisor (that would be me) has him off the deck against the evaporator panel, by the throat, explaining the E-6 E-4 relationship."
"Engineering Watch Supervisor, maneuvering, very well. notify me if a replacement Engineroom Lower Level watch is required."

memory two:
clunks and noises coming from outside the pressure hull, underway. an officer, an auxiliaries division petty officer, and myself (i had to do radiation surveys) were sent out to find the problem once the boat surfaced. now i typically don't let little things like being out in the middle of the ocean walking on a slippery deck on a heaving submarine bother me. but when the waves crashing over the deck were 6 to 8 feet above the walking deck, i got a little rattled. we put on our foul weather gear, our life jackets, and a harness with a rope and traveler that we could connect to a rail. you got around by "walking the dog", pulling the slider along the traveler rail. we got aft of the sail, and found one of the deck hatches had come loose. as the A-ganger was bent down with his head inside the line locker to make sure everything was still secure, a freaking HUGE wave washed over the deck, taking me with it. i hit the end of the the rope like a big dog hitting the end of the chain. the officer and the a-ganger pulled me back up to the deck. when we were finally done and back inside the boat, my engineer (the department head for you non-sailors out there) chewed my ass for days about losing the radiac meter somewhere into the Marianas Trench. i don't think he understood my cavalier attitude about losing the meter. all i could see was me making a tasty morsel for the shark cafe, which is open each and every day, 24/7 in that part of the world.

memory three: after over 100 days at sea, you have basically expended every resource most normal folks have to keep from being bored while on watch. watches were typically either 4 hrs on, 8 off, or 6 on, and 12 off. finding things to do during the off time was easy. training, training, training. and field day, cleaning your cleaning station. sleeping. reading. playing cribbage. watching movies. shooting the breeze. but on watch...the only thing you did was exist to insure the plant maintained itself in a stable and safe condition, and respond to casualties as required. hell, i started looking forward to the casualty training cycle, just for something to do on watch.
so how do you keep from going totally and irreversibly insane after 100 days at sea, and at least 20 more to go? why, you bowl! the centerline passageway down engineroom upper level on the seawolf was about 45 to 50 feet long before it jogged to port around the maneuvering room (central control station in engineering). so.... we made a bunch of bowling pins out of rags and duct tape, with nuts and bolts in the bottom so they'd stay upright. and our bowling ball was a roll of duct tape (aka EB green in the nuke navy), rolled from between the turbine generators to the air particulate detector along the deck, about 25 feet. never did get a strike, but it sure passed the time. of course, the reactor controls division leading petty officer was not impressed with our using his APD as a backstop, but that's the way it goes. as we used to say, frequently, "fuck him if he can't take a joke". actually, that was pretty much our stock phrase for just about everything.

memory four: the engineroom upper level watch took logs on all of the operating equipment on his watchstation every hour. our high pressure air compressors were down inside cubbies below deck level outboard the port and starboard turbine generators. the engineering watch supervisor and the engineering officer of the watch each reviewed logs every couple of hours to check for trends. actually, i think they did it to make sure we were doing our job, but that isn't the official nuke navy policy publicly stated. so i started getting some heat from one of the engineering watch supervisors. hell i'm tired of typing that... the EWS, who said he never saw me leave the workbench to take logs. so...what's a young nuke to do? why, put his foot on the compressor bedplate, and lean the clipboard against the gageboard to take compressor logs, of course. imagine going to the paint store, standing on top of the paint shaker, and trying to write a letter. looks kind of like that. he quite bitching, but i liked the effect so much, i kept doing it for the entire rest of the time i stood ERUL.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

easy stir fry

so you want to make a quick dinner, and don't know what to fix? that's what i was faced with tonight, so i went to the fridge, and took a look inside. hmmmm, veggies, frozen boneless chicken breasts.... hmmmm... i know! STIR-FRY!

first of all, you don't need a wok, since a good skillet or saute pan will do the job. but if you do have a wok, there are some tricks you can use while cooking that are almost impossible with a flat bottom pan.
so... let's start with a wok
mine's a hammered cast iron wok i bought at a flea market in hawaii for about $5.00 twenty years ago.

next: prep your grub for cooking. i usually use whatever is in the fridge, but zucchini, carrots, celery, peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, bok-choy cabbage, bean sprouts, onions, garlic, and snow peas are all great in a stir fry.
ingredients list for tonight's culinary experience
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced to bite sized pieces
  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped to bite sized pieces. one of my favorite tricks here is to take the stalk/stem that normally ends up in the garbage, peel it, and cut into matchsticks. minimal waste, great flavor
  • 1 (or however many you want) head of broccoli, cut up to bite sized pieces, and the stem peeled and matchsticked
  • 4 carrots, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise, and chopped to bite sized pieces
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 onion chopped. i used a red tonight, but if i had a white onion, i would have used it instead. stronger flavor.
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, sliced (see picture). these bad boys were frozen solid out of the freezer, so i let them sit for about 10 minutes while prepping the veggies. mostly frozen chicken slices easier.
  • various spices an sauces. more on this later
  • approximately 1 tbs corn starch for making the sauce. this can be skipped

prep veggies
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once you have the veggies prepped, put them in a microwave safe bowl, add about 1/2 cup of water, cover with plastic film, and nuke for 5 minutes. when done, leave the wrap on until you are ready to toss into the wok. this gives the veggies a head start. if i'm doing the whole production for guests, i'll get the steamer out, but since i was looking at making a quick dinner, the wave works just fine.

get your aromatics ready
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then prep your chicken
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you want the slices thick enough so you can cut them easily, but thin enough that they will cook rapidly.

put a tbs or so oil in a heated wok, and toss in the chicken. since i was using frozen chicken, i got a LOT of liquid out as it cooked. considering the package says up to 8% by weight of "broth" to keep it moist...yeah, you are paying chicken prices for water, you can expect this to happen. i really like using fresh chicken, but then, this was a quickie, not planned ahead. so as it cooks, push the meat up the sides of the wok to allow the liquid to boil off.
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i usually toss in a couple of pinches of garlic and a few shots of whatever flavor sauce i'm using. it gives the meat a chance to absorb some of those flavors while cooking. continue to cook and reduce the liquid until the meat just starts to brown. you don't want it "fried" crispy here, just cooked through with a little color. most of the flavors will come from the spices. when you think the meat is done, toss it into the serving bowl. the bottom of the wok will have all kinds of crunchy bits stuck to it at this point. don't worry about it, because you want that for some of the flavors you will get out of it later.

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here are the veggies ready for the wok, and the spices i used tonight.
  • 1/2 tsp 5 spice
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (only because i didn't have fresh in the fridge. a knob, peeled and minced of fresh is good
  • 2 tbs oyster sauce (about 1 tbs in chicken, and the rest in the veggies)
  • soy sauce to taste. i use lite salt soy because the oyster sauce is pretty salty. i usually use less than 1 1/2 tbs soy during prep, and then season on the table to taste
  • couple of glugs of rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs corn starch for sauce at the finish
  • 1 to 2 tsp sugar during saucing

now let's talk sauces. when i make my stir fry, i like to use commercially prepped sauces for the flavors available. some of my favorites are yoshida's gourmet sauce (which i buy by the 1/2 gallon....yay costco. it goes fast around here too!)
or any variety of oyster sauce, vietnamese fish sauce, or just plain old "stir fry" sauce available at any supermarket. yoshida's is the best, but tonight i felt like oyster sauce. be stingy with the sauce, and taste as you go. too much can ruin the dish for most people. me...i like it, lots of it, but i'm in the minority when it comes to oyster sauce. another good sauce is hoysin sauce, or even plum sauce, both available in the ethnic aisles in the grocery store. don't be a slave to preconceived notions regarding flavor. experiment a little. what i used tonight is what was in the fridge. if i was planning this out i might have bought a purpose made sauce at the store. even teryaki sauce is good! if you are a "roll your own" type, and insist on doing everything from scratch, the marinades i posted here and here both make great stir fry sauces. but i would like to point out that even the chef's typically use prepped sauces. just thought you should know.

on with the show. a glug of oil, heated, gets you ready for the aromatics. add the onion first, cook for about a minute, toss in the garlic, stir fry for as long as it takes to just start browning the garlic. too much, and it's bitter. not long enough, and you won't develop all of the flavor. when done, toss in the bowl on top of the chicken.

now the wok should be getting a pretty good layer of brown stuff cooked onto it. a glug of oil, swirled around the wok, needs to get HOT but not smoking before adding the veggies. i like to use peanut oil. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE use olive oil for this process. it breaks down long before it ever gets hot enough to cook with in the wok, making your food taste NASTY. toss in the veggies, and stir fry for about 2 minutes, turning often enough to keep anything from burning. then add about 1/2 cup of water, and use your cooking utensil ( i use a "chan", or wok spoon, because it is curved to match the wok's shape) to get all those good brown bits up into the mix. add a glug of rice vinegar (this can be omitted), the ginger, 5 spice, and your flavor sauce. taste, adjust as necessary. continue to stir fry until the veggies are close to the texture you like. i like them pretty al dente, so i don't go too long in this step. when i'm happy with the veggies, i dump the bowl contents of chicken and aromatics back into the wok, and toss, getting everything nice and hot. next, i mix about a tbs of corn starch in a 1/4 cup of cold water, and slowly add while stirring. if i add vinegar, i usually add a tsp or so of sugar while making the sauce, to balance the flavors. this makes that great sauce that soaks into the rice....mmmmmm. if it's too thick, add water and stir as necessary to thin it out. you are not looking for a gelled clump here, just a slightly thicken sauce. a gravy if you will.

finished product:
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and plated with rice:
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and of course, the whole reason you went through this exercise:
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i've written before about how i clean my cast iron without soap or abrasive pads, and here is the secret:
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a cheapo cheapo available in asian grocery stores (or china town in san francisco, but then, that's fodder for another post). it's just a bunch of bamboo pieces made into what is basically a very stiff brush. this thing works like magic on the wok, and on my cast iron skillet. remember to dry the pan with a paper towel, and put on a low burner to insure all of the water has evaporated. then glug a little oil into the pan, and wipe it around the entire inner surfaces. let it cool, and it's ready for the next adventure.

so give it a try. stir fry is easy, fast, and can be quite a tasty adventure

for a complete list of my online recipes, follow the link here

SSN-711 Commodore's Mast

the navy, acting true to it's latest incarnation at the top, has completed it's non-judicial proceedings in Guam. steve over at submarine brotherhood has the article from the navy times posted. damned shame. some fine sailor's careers have ended.

and here is some of the response from the submariner community out here in cyberland. i don't know how long the link will be good for, since ron only keeps a finite number of posts on the board before they are sent to join their predecessors in the ether.

edit: you can always count on an intellegently thought out response to all matters submarine from joel at the stupid shall be punished, and this is no exception. he usually gets some of the best comments as well.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Today's funny from Bill

A man and his wife were having some problems at home and were giving each other the silent treatment. Suddenly, the man realized that the next day, he would need his wife to wake him at 5:00 AM for an early morning business flight.
Not wanting to be the first to break the silence (and LOSE), he wrote on a piece of paper, "Please wake me at 5:00 AM." He left it where he knew she would find it.
The next morning, the man woke up, only to discover it was 9:00 AM and he had missed his flight.
Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife hadn't woke him, when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed. The paper said, "It is 5:00 AM. Wake up."
Men are not equipped for these kinds of contests.

people that live more interesting lives than you or me

ok, so i stole the caption idea from a comic strip. it's still valid.
this is a bit of old news within the submariner cyber community, but until now, i hadn't read the particulars. i'd like to point out the many things this senior chief has been involved in, and the things he's done to date. of the experiences he's had, the bronze star with combat 'V' awarded for actions in iraq is probably one of the most unique for a nuclear submariner.

been meaning to write about this for a couple of days

did you ever read a thriller, like a clancy book, and say...no friggin' way!?
well, it seems the soviets left 20 nuclear torpedoes in and around naples harbor during the cold war. for non-navy types, naples is one of the key hubs for american naval forces in the mediterranean.
“The torpedoes were used to mine an area where units of the U.S. marine corps were stationed.” Therefore the torpedoes should still be where the submarine left them and the question of removal and disarming them is being studied by military forces and secret services.

more info here.
imagine the scenario: nukes left on the bay floor, world tensions heat up, the american's send a fleet to the med. the fleet makes a pit stop in naples, (not unexpected), weapons detonated, and voila, an american free mediterranean, easy pickings for the soviet fleet. far fetched? i thought so until i read the articles. my mind has been spinning multiple story lines. hell, i could write a book, but nobody would have bought the setup until now. kind of makes you wonder what other little surprises there are in various ports and even cities the u.s. used as waypoints. hell, what about san francisco bay? or san diego? makes me shudder to think just how close we came during the cold war to actually annihilating each other.

the russians have responded stating "I deny vigorously the reports as utterly groundless".
According to several 5th Squadron commanding officers who led the force at different times, the Soviet warships had never entered the territorial waters of other countries because this was prohibited by relevant SOPs and orders governing the operations in the Mediterranean, Igor Dygalo said, adding that any violators of the orders would have faced harsh punishment.

ok. considering we as a nation had (some of us should say STILL HAVE) a paranoia streak about 15 meters wide when it comes to the soviets, i think i'll reserve judgement. it really does sound far-fetched, as in crazy shit made up to spin the citizenry up, but then... i know of at least one submarine that operated in locations that would have caused maximum international furor. there was even a book written about u.s. espionage, and i can't imagine the russian's not doing similar types of operations. for the brass to state they would never violate territorial waters is par for the course, and the reflexive action is to state "yeah, right".
hey, i can remember listening to a running dialog by the OOD once, where he was telling us about the guy standing on the beach with a surf pole, fishing at 0600 in the morning. we all got a big laugh when we heard the dude unzipped, and was pissing in the ocean while fishing. i won't say where we were, but i will say the dude's language was not english, and he probably used a bottle of vodka to keep warm with while fishing.

someone else i'd like to give a clue card to

then there is the woman suing harvard
She said she was shocked when, in late 2001, her supervisor told her she would never be promoted at Harvard. In court documents, Goodwin said her supervisor told her she was "a joke" at the university's main library, where she "was seen merely as a pretty girl who wore sexy outfits, low cut blouses, and tight pants."

well duh.
i guess she is a victim of harvard's expectations of work place appropriate dress and behavior.
here lady, read this card. get a clue. while i don't feel sorry for harvard's administration, i can understand the issue here. imagine a babe, dressed like a babe, in an environment full of testosterone laden young males. the first inappropriate remark, and bang, she could very easily be suing the school for fostering an environment that allows that sort of behavior. the school is in a lose lose situation. but this way it will cost them a lot less. ever see the awards the our fellow citizens see fit to pass in the courts for harassment??

WTF am i missing here?

there is a news article about municipalities suing ford motor company for selling them unsafe crown vic's for police cars. ok. i get it.
so ford, as a manufacturer, said that if you were suing the company, the company would not sell you any more cars. makes perfect sense to me. if you are suing me because you think my cars are unsafe, and then you buy more of them, it would be obvious to me that you are just out looking for some deep pockets. if you think the cars are unsafe, buy another brand! what the hell is so hard about that? why is that so impossible to understand? the gall some folks have feeling like they've been victimized (mainly because they are friggin' stupid) just rocks me back. here's a quote:
ford exec: "The bottom line is either they are serious about the lawsuit and the claims in the lawsuit or they're not," he said. "If you think the vehicle is unsafe - we don't - but if you do, don't expect us to supply you vehicles."
sounds reasonable to me.

"We woke up and Ford wouldn't sell us any Crown Vics," he said.
"It just rubs me the wrong way that they can try and push everybody around," Mayor Jeffrey Sherwin said.

i mean, WTF? another sign of the victimization of america. you do something, and there is a reasonable reaction or response, you are only a victim of your own actions.
damn, sometimes i just want to walk around with a pile of clue cards to hand out to these idiots.

Monday, March 21, 2005

my recipe blog entries

i was asked if i could collate my food entries into a single post, so here it is. once i get it up and running, i'll hot-link it permanently, and update it as i continue to add recipes.

so here goes, in chronological order:

please note that i am a verbose and pithy poster, so if you are here to find grub recipes, you'll have to put up with my ramblings to get to them.

as always, if you try this recipe, or it inspires you to try something different, please let me know how it turned out. i'm always looking for fresh and clever ideas to improve my own cooking skills and recipes.

for a complete list of my online recipes, follow the link here

so there they are. all kitchen tested, and approved by bothenook. not a loser in the bunch, if i do say so myself.
if you find this helpful, and you actually use one of these recipes, please let me know how it turned out. i also like to hear about variations. people are so clever, and have ideas about food that i wouldn't ever dream of in a million years.

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Sunday, March 20, 2005

ok dwardo, here it is

my amigo dwardo asked if i had a "recent" picture of me before i turned into a meat version of the hindenburg blimp. so i went digging, and found the picture (it's 10 years old...my my my), and i weighed 205 pounds and had been clinically tested for body fat at 6%. what a stud. i won't tell you what it is now, other than the fact that i've lost 30+ pounds, with another wheelbarrow full to go. it's amazing what being able to move will do to your ability to lose weight. wish i hadn't been so stubborn about seeing a chiropractor for the last 8 years. my fault, but i do learn from my mistakes. it's really cool being able to turn and look over my shoulder without gasping in pain.
oh, here's the picture.
as always, click for a larger view
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Saturday, March 19, 2005

carnival of recipes #31 up and running

at Flying Space Monkey.
i even got my very own catagory, all to myself. how cool is that?

Friday, March 18, 2005

friday's joke from bill

ok, i listened to this, and it's still got me wiping my eyes. my sides hurt.

Read the narrative first, then open the wave file . . . it's hilarious.

On a recent Spurs trip, we were asking one of our sponsors, one who works at Jack in the Box, for some funny stories or experiences with the company.
The funniest story he had was when an operations manager was late for a meeting and called his boss to tell him he was running late. As he was leaving the voice mail message, he witnessed an accident and went on to provide "play by play" of the incident.
After telling us the story, he promised to send us a copy of the voice mail and here it is. This is the actual voice mail message. It was passed along and forwarded so many times within Jack in the Box, it crashed their voice mail server

voicemail wave file

first Victoria Cross to a living recipient since 1969

ok, there are medals in the military world, and then there are medals.
the Victoria Cross was last awarded more than 25 years ago, posthumously to a couple of soldiers that fought in the Falklands.

This week, the Brits awarded the VC to a 25 year old soldier in iraq. i don't know if you can grasp how amazing it is. the united states has issued very few Congressional Medals of Honor, but more than the Brits have the VC. the criteria must be unbelievably stringent. as an example, the united states has awarded 3459 CMOH's since the first issued in 1863. the brits have awarded 1354, now 1355 since the first issued in 1854. there is no denying this young man did something extraordinarily brave.
Sir Mike Jackson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "His citation is an extraordinary story of one man's courage in the way he risked his life for his colleagues, not once, but twice.

"We all know that the Victoria Cross is held in such high regard in our country and any holder of it is rightly given enormous respect for what he has done."

Private Johnson Beharry, i salute you, and honor your selfless bravery.

further signs of a degenerate, misspent youth

Bacardi 151
Congratulations! You're 132 proof, with specific scores in beer (120) , wine (100), and liquor (121).

All right. No more messing around. Your knowledge of alcohol is so high that you have drinking and getting plastered down to a science. Sure, you could get wasted drinking beer, but who needs all those trips to the bathroom? You head straight for the bar and pick up that which is most efficient.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 72% on proof
You scored higher than 86% on beer index
You scored higher than 95% on wine index
You scored higher than 99% on liquor index
Link: The Alcohol Knowledge Test written by hoppersplit on Ok Cupid

tip o' the tam to allan, who got it from someone else.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

joel finds another one

submariner blogger, that is. yup, if i want to know what is the latest news on the submarine community's mind, or find a subblogger, i just wander over to the stupid will be punished. seems joel is becoming the lode stone for boat sailors plying the cyber seas.
and who did we find this time? why a monatana blogger Sarpy Sam. greetings sam. hope to see some posts from you on our pages in the future.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

damn, i may have to cool it on the blogosphere

for a while until the wrinkles at blogger get figured out. when you have to wait for an indeterminant time to post or respond, it's time to go find something else to do. be back when i can post without locking up my computer.

Monday, March 14, 2005

an oldie, but goodie

received by email.

I recently picked a new primary care physician. After two visits and exhaustive lab tests, he said I was doing "fairly well" for my age. A little concerned about that comment, I couldn't resist asking him, "do you think I'll live to be 80?"

He asked, do you smoke tobacco or drink beer/wine?"

"Oh no," I replied. "I'm not doing either."

Then he asked, "Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued ribs?"

I said, "No, my other Doctor said that all red meat is very unhealthy!"

Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, sailing, hiking, or bicycling?"

No, I don't," I said.

He asked, "Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or have a lot of sex?"

"No," I said. "I don't do any of those things."

He looked at me and said, "Then why do you give a shit if you live to be 80?

and one of the responses was: "i always tell people i drive too fast to worry about cholesterol"

surfing the news feeds

remember my little rant about china? welcome to taiwan's world. that big beast to the west has to be causing some MORE serious concern in that part of the world, and you just know it is going to spill over to us. consider how much of the world's shipping either leaves, or passes by this area. and where is most of it coming? here. where is most of the world's production of steel heading? there. you don't need to take your socks off to count this one up.

and then there is
lebanon. the winds of freedom are fanning the fire of nationalism and patriotism in that part of the world. damn bush, if he'd just left things alone, all those murderous thugs running those countries wouldn't have to rely on their friends in the UN to have someone to talk to. nobody else wants them around. in iraq, even the kurds and shi'ia are figuring this out. talk, agree to disagree, get something to work, then smooth the wrinkles out later. friggin' bush. if it weren't for him, those kurds and shiites would still be at each other's throats, helping keep the region stable for the ruling immans. a common enemy, and all.
edit, 3/15/05 even the decidedly anti-bush Washington Post has published an story in their paper that is lauditory to the president. a brief snippet follows. go read it, and see what i mean about the president's policies are changing the face of the middle east, in my opinion, for the better. more movement towards a free and democratic middle east has happened in the last two years than in the previous _______ (fill in your own time reference, it's still applicable)
"Nowadays, intellectuals, businessmen and working-class people alike can be caught lauding Bush's hard-edged posture on democracy and cheering his handling of Arab rulers who are U.S. allies.

even the irish are starting to figure it out. have you been reading how the IRA is getting seriously flamed by just about everyone there? and this latest piece of news is stoking the fire even higher. i read a couple of days ago (can't find the source now) that the IRA is in serious deep kimchee over their latest round of terrorist activities. even staunch supporters in ireland are turning their backs to these creeps. just about the only place they get any play now is in the usa, and that is one of the saddest things i've reported in a long time. for a people that espouses such high ideals to embrace a band of murdering criminals is beyond me. sinn fein? f*** you. nope, i remember where it was. check out this post by New Sisyphus, and the next one after. memory, a fickle thing.

and for something a little lighter, i suggest this news snippet. even this item gives me cause to consider the problems we are going to face if it ever comes to a standoff with china. tough dudes!

and if you ever need to find santa during the off season, i suggest looking here, though for the life of me, i can't figure out why he'd go there when tahiti is so much warmer.

and since it looks like the global war on terror (gwot) is faltering in the western pacific areas, perhaps this isn't such a bad idea. if you can't kill off the islamofascists with guns, sell them really cheap cigarettes. and hire really studly looking 18 to 35 year old males to advertise. tell them 6 packs a day will make them impervious to western devil bullets or something.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Eat an Animal for PeTA, my contribution

so we all know that 15 march 2005 is people eating an animal for peta day, right? if not, i suggest a short trip to Yourish for a brief background. i whole-heartedly support this concept, and went out this weekend, bought 5 new york steaks, and mary's little lamb's chops... 8 of them. and this is a pictorial/recipe post, sharing with you not only the food, but how i fixed it. FOOD BLOG!!!
so: lets start with the meat
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Beef preparation: marinade the steaks in your favorite marinade. if you don't have one, try this
beef marinade:
  • 1/2 white onion, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced finely
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 1 sprig of rosemary leaves, crushed or minced, saving the twig for the bbq, or a couple of pinches of dried rosemary
  • 1/4 cup veggie oil or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup wine vinegar; either white or red, they both work.

mix up the ingredients, pour into a dish big enough to take the steaks, and then turn the steaks over a couple of times in the marinade. cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours, turning at least once. i always try to let the meat come to room temp before bbq'ing, and that's a good time to turn the meat.

herb crusted lamb: first of all, let me say that i personally can't hack lamb. just don't like the flavor, and that's that. so when i decided to grill lamb, i had to resort to visiting my cook book shelf. i decided on a dry rub, and by all the feedback i got, it was a winner.
lamb grill dry rub (california culinary academy's Barbequing, Grilling and Smoking ). normally i'd use as many fresh herbs and spices as i could get my hands on, but i followed their recipe for a DRY rub.
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp fennel seed, bruised or crushed in a mortar and pestle you do HAVE a mortar and pestle, don't you? if not, a coffee mill, or even using a spoon to crush the seeds in a ceramic or metal bowl will work
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbs paprika i personally use the hungarian sweet paprika anytime i can, and it seemed to work really well in this rub.
  • 1 tsp each oregano and basil
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp salt
i just put the rub on a saucer, and dipped the lamb into the mix until all sides were coated. the rub makes about 4 TBS and i used it all for those little baaaaaaad boys.

of course, being a well informed eater, i couldn't just have meat. well, i could, but since i had guests coming for dinner, i decided to make it an all grill affair, except for the salad.

grilled spuds:
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i prepped enough spuds for about 2 to 2 1/2 yukon gold spuds each (hey, they aren't that big)
  • spuds, some small variety like red skinned or yukon gold, but NOT creamers, because they'd either fall apart, or fall thru the grill
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, stripping the leaves and saving the twigs for the grill
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil, you will know how much is enough when you start tossing the spuds
so, i quartered the spuds, and put them into the steamer for 10 or 15 minutes, until fork tender, but before they became mushy. DON'T OVERSTEAM. i didn't try this, but i bet you could microwave these puppies on high for 5 minutes, check, and adjust additional cooking time until tender.
crush or mince the garlic and rosemary leaves together, put into a bowl and add a couple of tbs of olive oil. then toss in the spuds, and mix to coat. drop a film or foil cover on the bowl, and set aside until ready to cook.

grilled veggies:
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so you take your favorite grilling veggies, and cut and skewer them. i used red bell peppers, zucchini, and red onion. the tomatoes i left to dump directly on the grill, since the skewers make a big mess of the tomatoes.
marinade the veggies as follows:
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • a couple pinches each of oregano, thyme, and basil
brush the marinade on, and let sit covered until ready to cook. you can also cheat, but you'll have to read further to find out how. i made this marinade only because i ran out of my cheater brew. shhhhh, don't tell anybody.

grilled asparagus:
  • 2 bunches of asparagus, rinsed and dried
  • bottle of home made good seasons garlic and herb salad dressing (this is one of my very favorite cheater marinades for veggies and meat)
snap off the bottom howevermuch breaks on the stalks. the last inch or so is usually really woody, so grasp the stalk near the bottom, grab the cut end with the other, and snap. it will snap off the really tough part, and leave the rest for the grill. usually about 1 to 1 1/2 inches snaps off. toss the asparagus into a big ziplock bag (gallon size) and pour the salad dressing in. seal, and then squinch it around until the veggies are completely coated. set aside until ready to cook.
this is what it all looks like when the prep work is done
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so off to the grill:
first, i use a weber charcoal kettle grill, and these instructions are for it, but i'm sure they would work just as well on a gas grill.

fire up the coals. when ready, put the spuds on, and cover. cook for about 25 minutes, or until nice and lightly charred on the grill lines, and brown inbetween. turn to keep from burning, and about halfway thru, brush on a little olive oil. when done, put back into the bowl where the garlic, rosemary and olive oil are, and toss. cover or put into a 200 degree oven to keep warm.
grill the veggies next. i started out with the asparagus, making sure to put it on the grill so that none fell between the wires. a little salt and pepper, and then let cook, turning until done. cover and keep warm

veggies: easy, on, turn, off. keep warm. strip off of the skewer, and plate with the asparagus.

steak: just before tossing on the grill, shake montreal steak seasonings on both sides of the steaks. this is one of my favorite store bought season mixes. grill, turning about 5 minutes into the process, and baste with melted butter. hey, we aren't talking low cholesterol or calorie here, it's eat an animal for peta day, remember? cook until you are happy. i usually pull the steaks when they are about 125 to 130 internal, and they finish cooking on the serving plate.

lamb: toss on at the same time as the beef, and let the herbs char lightly, turning the cuts until all the sides that you can cook are cooked, and it's about 150 to 170 internal temp. we went towards the rare end of the spectrum.

plate and prepare to dig in:
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but before you do, make sure you have sautéed mushrooms and onions ready for the steak. you don't? here's my favorite
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced finely, or pressed
  • 3 to 4 cups mushrooms
  • a couple of big glugs of olive oil in the saute pan
  • 2 tbs BUTTER (no margarine...remember this is....eat an animal day
saute onion and garlic until the onions start to turn transparent. throw in the mushrooms and saute until soft. turn down the heat to low, and add butter, swirling until it is melted and incorporated. take off the heat and place in serving bowl, on the table.

hey bo! think we could get another look at that meat platter?
why sure, little feller, take a gander at this cropped shot.
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thanks bo

sit your kiester down and get ready to dig in. oops. forgot. for the steaks, get about 1/4 to 1/2 pound of a really good crumbly blue cheese. i found an amish ohio bleu cheese. top the hot steak with a nice layer of crumbled cheese, a generous helping of shrooms and onions, and dig in. the steak, topped with that amish bleu, was one of the best steaks i've ever eaten. and i've eaten a couple of cow's worth of steaks in my 50 years.

for libation, we had:
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a damned tasty 2000 Napa Valley grown merlot by dunnewood. screw that sideways movie b.s. merlot is still a great wine, and it held it's own against the herb crusted lamb and the cheese and shroom drenched steaks. THAT's what it's all about, not some vague sense of superiority. except, for superiority's sake, we started the evening with a toast to our new home with a bottle of Mumm Cuvee Napa's Brut Prestige which helped put us all into a festive mood. oh, and the Port behind the wine bottles? we didn't drink that. i'm saving it until around 2015 or so. i'm just bragging, and wanted to show it off. i'ts a Mayo Family Winery 2001 Ricci Vineyard Russian River Valley Zinfandel Port, which by all the wine experts reckonings, should be one of the finest Ports produced in california, ever. we'll see when it matures, in say another 10 or 15 years.

desert was a pound cake/3 berry shortcake, with whipped cream, a nice romeo y jullieta cigar, and a couple of demitasse glasses of Fonseca Bin No. 27 Porto, inexpensive, but tasty. damn, life is good, especially when the day leading up to the evening was in the low to mid 80's, in the middle of march.

so, do you think we did our part for Eat an Animal for PeTA day, albeit a couple of days early?

edit 3/16/05: and for an independant review of the dinner, visit dwardo over at Vox Edvardicus. note: i did not hold a gun to his head, nor did i threaten any physical harm. purely a voluntary post. honest, really, no kidding. hehehe

for a complete list of my online recipes, follow the link here

Friday, March 11, 2005

one close to WillyShakes' heart

willyshakes, over at unconsidered trifles and i have bandied about the culture of insanity found at many universities. we've all heard that our buddy ward churchill from colorado is a weasel, one of the poster children for what david horowitz at FrontPageMag.com calls the intellectual corruption of america's campi (that's the plural, right?) by the far left loonies. frontpagemag has explored this issue at great length for several years, and have pioneered the fight for intellectual freedom at our schools of higher learning. an example would be the symposium they held and reported on regarding the ward churchills of academia.

and with all of the disclosures about churchill ranging from his purported plagiarism of art work to his comments about the victims of the 911 WTC disaster as "little eichmann's", churchill has become a lightning rod for the right's dismay and disgust with academia and the folks running the show all across our land. and now, new disclosures about the non-native american claiming to be one:
University of Colorado officials investigating embattled professor Ward Churchill received documents this week purporting to show that he plagiarism another professor's work.Officials at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia sent CU an internal 1997 report detailing allegations about an article Churchill wrote.

this latest tidbit was found while perusing Rocky Mountain News, which i check out every once in a while since HST capped himself. how in the world can anyone defend this bozo? i am all for free speech, but i'm also all for personal responsibility, and intellectual honesty. THIS dweeb exercises one, and is completely lacking in the other.
time for a really really big broom to sweep out the hallowed halls of learning, and return those institutions to the job they were built for: teaching our children, educating them, not politically brainwashing them. faaah, it just pisses me off when i think about the crap our kids are subjected to in college. don't even get me started on personal anecdotes from MY time in school, or stories from my kids. intellectual freedom, espoused but far from practiced.

a few notes about the italian job

or should i say, botched italian job. this refers to the post on New Sisyphus that i quoted earlier. i've been wandering around reading what i can about that whole lashup, and NS does a good job of trying to put the whole response in europe in perspective.
while i was cruising, i came across this
BBC report that appears to actually be fairly written, for a change. no u.s. bashing. what a concept. as a matter of fact, they seem intent on showing both sides of this imbroglio.
Gen Marioli's version, as reported by the papers, also contradicts a reconstruction by the Italian government and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who said the US military had been advised that Ms Sgrena was on board the car.

Italian media have been speculating that Italy might have deliberately kept the mission wrapped in secrecy because the US did not approve of the ongoing negotiations with the kidnappers.

to put this quote in perspective, the italians have paid out over 6 million dollars in ransom. read NS's analysis. it's worth the trip over there.

it's a shame that the kids doing their jobs are now under investigation for something that was not their fault. dump on the lowest participants is a typical modern military reaction. i don't know why, other than if the "weakest" in the chain of events gets slammed, the others hope the attention gets diverted from them.
speaking of that, whatever happened to that young marine that popped the "wounded" iraq in falluga several months ago. that kid should have gotten a letter of commendation for doing his job right, not slapped around by a military frightened by the glare of media lights.

i know that a lot of what has been said about this whole affair is getting stale, since in the blogosphere, any story older than about 5 minutes is passe. but i'd like to direct your attention to a post by the idaho bubblehead for a well written and reasoned exposition on this subject. even if he posted it days ago.

whew, i love it when New Sisyphus gets rolling

did you read the march 10 entry on New Sisyphus yet? well, what the hell you waiting for? go, scat. return with comments.

At the same time, though, it's well past time for us to remove the safeguards that allow them to sleep in safety. Only until they live in our world will they understand it.

Let the boys from Turin defend South Korea. Let the girls from Madrid patrol Kosovo. Let the lads from St. John's patrol the Indonesian Straits. A gradual withdrawal from our over-powerful role will be painful, on all sides. But until and unless the man on the street in Europe and Canada feels the weight of responsibility, we will continue to witness these circuses.

amazing sound files of submarines and sonar

i was banging around martini's submarine bbs, and found this site that has sound files from the 60's, recorded on passive sonar. one of the coolest, besides the biologics they recorded was of a diving submarine. takes me back. i can feel the deck tilting beneath my feet when listening to this file. sorry, but all the files on this site were done in real audio. not my fault, it's just the way it is.

and to really get the goose bumps fired up, listen to the recorded attacks on japanese shipping by the uss sealion. i used headphones, and twiddled with the graphic equalizer on the sound card to clean it up, because a lot of the recording is garbled.
what i'd like to point out about the attack tapes is just how much information and communications passes back and forth around the attack officer (in this case the skipper). how all the information is assimilated and utilized, all the while in a major high stress evolution like attacking a combined flotilla of several main battle ships and a handful of destroyers... well, listen to the recording, and marvel at the professionalism and determination of the crew on sealion. simply amazing.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

cool. more submariner bloggers

welcome to the blogosphere! my amigo the idaho bubblehead introduces a couple of more bloggers to the fold. and i must say that it's good to see the "former" NavET got a blog! so say howdy to hundreds of fathoms and the molten eagle. hail fellows, and well met.
damn, if more boat sailors take the plunge, i may have to open a new blogger acct just to track them all in the links section!
very, very cool. we are starting to become our own community out here in cyberland. of course, we all owe homage to Ron Martini, who started a submariner's bulletin board a long time ago. there was a time when i started reading and posting there that a message would stay on the front page for weeks. now it's more like hours.
submarines once, submarines twice, holy jum... oh, sorry joel. i forgot.

oh happy day...kimchi is good for you!

of the many many foods i eat that my wife raises an eyebrow at, kimchi is one of my favorites. of course, i don't open a jar of it in the house. otherwise, i get some not so subtle hints about the weird smell. well, i may have to go out and get a couple more jars. why you ask? go visit Photios and read what he found.
mmmmm....kimchi. better than chicken soup to fix what ails ya!

a pet peeve, accompanied by a minor rant

about bankruptcy. Rob has a fairly well documented post regarding the recent and pending changes to the bankruptcy bill. except his slant is of course, leaning in from the other direction. none the less, he points out that there will be a codified criteria for declaring bankruptcy, rather than leaving it to the discretion of a judge. i'm trying to figure out why that is bad. if you have the means to pay back your debt, regardless of how "inconvenient" it may be, you should pay it back. i am in no way in favor of the old debtor's prison concept favored throughout europe for centuries, but i'm also not in favor of granting a "get out of jail free card" to people simply because they are not responsible enough to control their debt. the vast majority of bankruptcies, as far as i've been able to find during an hour or so of surfing the web, is consumer debt. as in...buying things when you can't afford them.
one of the quotes rob posted just fired me up.
"The bill simply doesn't balance responsibility between families in debt trouble and the creditors whose practices have contributed to the rise in bankruptcies," said Travis Plunkett of the Consumer Federation of America in a written statement.

WTF, over? in what way is it society's responsibility to relieve the burden of debt from someone simply because they don't know how to say no?
i have several personal anecdotes regarding debt, bankruptcy, and moral standards.
1: an acquaintance of mine declared bankruptcy because his debt load overwhelmed his income. what kind of debt? new computer for himself, and a new computer each for his kids. printers, tv sets, phones, etc. did he need this stuff? no. did he have the income to pay for them, and the other "things" he bought on credit? no. so why do we, the general public, have to pay an increased price for goods simply because he couldn't afford the stuff he bought on credit, then defaulted on? why should i pay more to cover the obvious failings of him?
2: conversation overheard between two distant acquaintances: "yeah, just got back from cozomel. great time. going to reno next weekend, should have a blast."
"oh, so you got a job? great!"
"no, i haven't found a job. but since i'm in the shits now, i figured i might as well rack up the cards to the max before i file for bankruptcy". this is a true story, and i really was sitting next to these two during the conversation
3: this is a personal story. i was assigned as the remote site supervisor in pearl harbor for 6 months. i took the kids, and left the ex behind, since she "was looking for a job". when i got home, i was over $40k in debt, and the 25% overtime i worked, and my regular pay that was automatically deposited...all gone. this wasnt' the reason we split, but it certainly was a factor.
my lawyer tried to get me to file bankruptcy. since it was legally my responsibility, i refused. it took a lot of phone calls, and some serious belt tightening, but i paid off the debt over the next year and a half. part of the payment came from the cash buyout of equity in our house for the ex, but the majority of the money came from me. and i had the kids. am i stupid? i don't think so. it was a responsibility, and i felt morally obligated to fulfill the obligation. am i a hero? hell no, because if that's all that it takes to be a hero, our society has really fallen on hard times.

i can understand if someone bought a house, or purchased items with credit, as long as the payments were well within their means of paying. and if a catastrophic occurrence removes the income source, then bankruptcy may be appropriate. but that is not a blanket "ok" either. i once again ask the simple question: why is it the public's responsibility to pay off your debt?
since when has it become ok to completely shed all personal responsibility? probably when the government decided to "take care of us" in establishing welfare and other social programs. i'm not saying that these programs are wrong, but i do feel they are horribly abused, and we as a society turn a blind eye to the abuses of the system. i'm just not sure why we do.
i know folks that have actually filed for bankruptcy more than once. if i was the judge in those cases, the second time you came to my court, your ass would be on it's way to jail for fraud, at the minimum.

edit 3/11: and furthermore, from rob's post:
But consumer advocates argue that the bill is a gift to creditors – particularly the credit card industry, which may receive $1 billion or more from repayment plans due to the expected increase in Chapter 13 filings, according to Robert McKinley, CEO of CardWeb.com.

if i was the ceo of a company, and had accounts receivable amounts that even remotely approached A BILLION DOLLARS, i'd be criminally negligent to the stockholders, and could very easily get jail time.
and that BILLION dollars is not the entire sum owed to the credit card companies that is in default. they are not running a charity. they are in business to make money. just like the hand wringers to expect a free ride just because their target has the bucks. really really sad. just seems to me that this is another indication that there are large segements of our population that want to give the responsibility and work of running their lives over to another entity, be it the government, or their political party of choice. WFT ever happened to self determination, and self reliance? oh, i forgot, that takes effort. sorry.
we are becoming a society that expects everything to be taken care for them, but don't want to be told what to do or how to run our lives. puzzling. we are incrimentally becoming slaves, willingly giving up what is rightly ours in the persuit of... i don't know what, maybe laziness?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

one dirtbag down, more needed to check out

looks like the russian's popped the (multiple deleted expletives, all most foul) dirtbag that was the head bubba behind the school massacre last year. for a blurb and pic, follow the clickity click

Sunday, March 06, 2005

our great experiment

During a visit to Thomas Jefferson, the German scientist Baron Alexander von Humboldt saw a newspaper in the President's study filled with scurrilous abuse of him. "Why are these libels allowed?" exclaimed the Baron, picking up the paper. "Why s not this libelous journal suppressed, or its Editor, at least, fined and imprisoned?" "Put that paper in your pocket, Baron," said Jefferson, smiling, "and should you hear the reality of our liberty, the freedom of the press questioned, show them this paper, and tell them where you found it."

Smith THE FIRST FORTY YEARS, quoted in Presidential Anecdotes

Saturday, March 05, 2005

life's simple pleasures

ahhh. i've rediscovered an old favorite, with a slight twist. ok, so this isn't a recipe. sorry. but it is FOOD, and it is a SNACK, so i'm running with it.
one of my favorite munchie foods in the world is berries. black berry, raspberry, logan berry, currants, grapes. they are all good, and great snacks. but in the middle of winter, they are hard to find, and if you do find them, very very expensive. so...i've found a great new snack. i buy big bags of frozen blueberries from costco (hooray for costco), and when i feel like something sweet, i crack out the blueberries, dump a bunch in a bowl, and eat them frozen, with a spoon. no ice cream, no ugly calories, just sweet, frozen blueberries. yup, simple things can bring great pleasure, without a lot of guilt.
the only bummer is you end up with a really weird colored tongue and teeth. i suppose everything has it's price.
edit: so i went out and did some checking. some of us are on diets, or at least concerned about "empty calories". blueberries are rich in anti-oxidants, and are on the "you otta eat these things" lists i found on medical and diet sites while poking around for information.
blueberries, with no sugar (they don't really need any) contain 80 calories a cup.
frozen blueberries make a great desert, snack, or part of the meal.
here's some info on ice cream i thought was interesting. remember, i am now using blueberries as an ice cream substitute.
NON-FAT or FAT FREE ice cream (just makes me shudder thinking about) contain between 180-200 calories per cup. some like Ben and Jerry's No-Fat Vanilla Fudge have a lot of sugar in it, and the carton says it contains 150 calories per HALF CUP. who eats a half a cup of ice cream? nobody i know. there is a ton of sugar in this stuff, and that's what makes it palatable i guess.
regular old everyday traditional ice cream typically has between 300 and 600 calories per cup, with 16-40 grams of fat. and some are much higher, depending on the goodies they blend into the ice cream, and how much sugar is added.
and all the sites i found show ice cream portions at 1/2 cup. boggles the mind. i don't think i've ever eaten only 1/2 cup of ice cream, unless that was all that was left at the bottom of the carton!

blueberries, on the other hand: 80 cal/cup. no added sugars, no fat, no bad stuff. if you really need them to be sweetened, sprinkle on a little bit of splenda.

and yet another cool way to get more bang for your snack. apples. most everyone i know likes apples, and they make a great snack. you can supercharge your apple by slicing it into quarters or eighths, cut out the core, and then sprinkle on as much cinnamon as you like. very satisfying, and it is a cheater, because it tastes like a raw apple pie. without the crust of course.
hope you try these out. they are not only easy (as in, open the bag, pour them out), or slicing an apple, but they are good and good for you.
i like non-fussy food, and this is about as non-fussy as you can get short of going to a restaurant. and cheaper.

for a complete list of my online recipes, follow the link here

Friday, March 04, 2005

look what i got in the email? calvin and hobbes!!!!

an bud of mine that knows that calvin and hobbes is one of my favorite alltime comics just sent me a link to the complete calvin and hobbes website. i only surfaced long enough to pass it one. going back. see ya.

some boat pictures

yes, i really did play sailor. and i've got the pictures to prove it!

so here are a couple of pix i used to have posted to my website before it came crashing down, due to server problems, and my being lazy. one of these days i'll have to get my act together and fire up the site again. until then, enjoy.

ah yes, the world famous Horse and Cow. Quite a legendary submarine bar, still talked about today. they have moved to the bremerton/silverdale area i think. may have to check it out when we go north this summer

Capt. Charlie Mac presenting me my dolphins, underway in 75. that fine looking gent in the foreground was BIG (his nickname). someday i'll tell you about the coffee pot, BIG, and the poor unsuspecting new nooklear unqualified person (me) on midwatch

a young lad indulging in two of his many vices caffeine and tobacco. i've heard that the fleet is really tough on smokers now. it helped that my skipper was a pipe and cigar smoker, i guess. sometime during the summer of 76, underway on nooklear power

how i spent my summer vacation. standing watch in the engineroom upperlevel (that's the diesel gageboard behind me) on the 4th of July, 1976. hell of a way to celebrate the bicentennial. that big son of a bitch next to me is pinky. i'm 5'10". BIG is bigger than pinky, just to put some perspective on the whole thing. gotta love those navy issue birth control glasses. you know why they were called birth control glasses, right? because they were one of the most effective birth control devices known to man. wear them, and conception was highly unlikely, since partners ran away, ran away

how i spent my spring and summer vacation, 1978. on watch in the engineroom, on the sound powered phones. must have been the maneuvering watch, or some evolution. we didn't normally have to wear them. the dude leaning against the gageboard is as big as pinky. we used to joke that we had a 5 man trim party in machinery division alone. i always thought i'd be a big dude on the boats until i got there and found out that m-division alone had 5 guys taller than 6'3" and weighing more than 240 each, with a couple of them topping out closer to 6'5". i was puny by comparison at 5'10" and 165 pounds.

here i am in the damned good humor man suit i had to buy for this inspection, because the navy decided that the traditional blues were no good anymore. what really burns is that i had less than a year left in the navy when they changed uniforms. i'm getting a ComSubPac letter of commendation for the overhaul from the captain. he was the 3rd skipper i served under on the boat. of course, when you spend 6 1/2 years on one boat, you tend to go through captains and engineers. if i really worked at it, i might be able to come up with all of the engineer's names, but i'm not sure. those guys seemed to drop like flies for some reason. there were some outstanding ones, and a couple of forgettable ones too.

i know that the submarine force has changed the way it serves chow since i was in, because i worked on the boats for 15 years after i got out. we had "seatings", where the mess cooks set up the tables, we shuffled in, ate, cleared our mess, and left. then they would repeat the setup, probably for a total of three times, with the stragglers eating as a place cleared during the third seating. i'm on the left in the picture. i used to get a lot of grief because even though i weighed less than 180, i took up two spots because i had big shoulders. this picture was taken during a yard period, just before i got out.

there you go, my little trip down memory lane.

a chill wind blowing from the west

or, far east, depending on which coast you start from.
12-15 years ago, i started harping about china being a major threat to the future survival of this country. my way leftie bud tim accused me of making up boogie men because the russian bear was foundering, and i needed an enemy to focus on. no arguement would sway him.
well, today things are looking even scarier than they did 12 years ago. what have we got? china has one of the most robust economies in the world, growing at prodigious rates far exceeding our own. they have the largest standing army in the world. they have developed nuclear submarines, nuclear weapons, and have an animus towards taiwan that borders on the pathological. and now, they are boosting their military spending. the fact that they were able to exploit the pure greed and avarice of dirtbag american executives and get missle technology handed to them from raytheon, technology american taxpayers paid through the nose for, for weapons guidance systems, and the fact that they were able to get the plans for the W-88 multiple reentry nuclear weapon, the fact that chinese weapons of new manufacture were captured in iraq upon our incursion there... the list goes on and on.
and to try to make an economic arguement against the chinese having agressive plans is ludicrous. americans tend to think that everyone is just like them...very short attention span, and incredibly self-centered (i count myself amongst this group as well). the chinese have a very long history of being able to take the long view. i suppose i need to start brushing up on my mandarin and cantonese. i'll probably need it.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


i was asked a couple of posts ago to recommend some cigars. ok, but understand that taste is subjective. for instance, claro is ok, maduro (or dark) is my favorite, and i can't stand green wrapped cigars. just my taste.

so here goes, in asending order of cost, but not necessarily in taste.

Backwoods Cigars. i've been smoking these bad boys for years and years. they are tasty, cheap, all natural tobacco, and the wife doesn't bitch too loudly about their smell. of course, i only smoke outside, and that might help matters. oh, and don't bother with all those weird flavored ones. either the sweet aromatics, or the original. but mostly the sweet aromatics

Antonio y Cleopatra Grenadiers, either the Dark, or the Dark Churchill. both are very good for inexpensive cigars. even cigar snobs enjoy the Dark Churchill.

Thompson Cigar's Maduro wrapped Amigos kick ass. but let me warn anyone interested in buying from Thompson Cigar. they have excellent customer service, but once you get on their mailing list (they are mail order) you will be there forever. and you will find more freaking junk mail than imaginable. but their cigars, and their sampler packs are great. just a word to the wise though about their selling your address to the junkmailers.

Romeo y Julieta reserve maduro cigars are damned good as well. the smaller the ring size (i.e. 44 x something) the happier i am. the Number 4 or the Lonsdale are just right.

La Gloria Cubana is a tasty stogie, and the smaller ring dark wrapper ones run less than 5 or 6 bucks per. not bad for a good cigar that you only smoke once in a while.

Cohiba Cigars are probably my most favorite. i really like the 38, and 42 ring cigars they have in any length. these are just damned good. but expensive. i only get a couple of these a year.

so i hope that sheds some light on the cigar issue. for my money, a kickback stoge is the backwoods sweet aromatics. when i'm having friends over for an informal dinner, a good port and maduro churchill's by AyC foot the bill. so will the Amigos. if it's more formal, or i'm "trying to impress" or show off, i'd go with RyJ silver label reserves. and when it's just me, or me and my bud dwardo sitting on the back porch letting dinner digest after a big assed meal, it's cohiba time. great thing about the backwoods is you don't get ostracized, because they smell pretty damned good. the good thing about the other cigars is that the wives usually stay as far away as they can get. you know, for those important guy talk conversations, like where the fish are hitting, or ...

now there's an idea worth investigating

every once in a while, you come across a pdgi (pretty damned good idea). i think Chap's got this one dialed in.
i've tried twice to enlist since 9-11, and was told both times to forget about it, and let the youngsters take care of it. want to draft someone? draft us old timers. i may not be able to march 20 miles with a full ruck and ammo load out, but i can tear down and overhaul high pressure air compressors, no problemo. or, i could sit up on top of a tower somewhere, watching thru a pair of binoculars. or clean shitters (got a lot of experience doing THAT in the navy). what do you think?

why blog? here is one answer

Varifrank posted a "why blog/how'd i get into it" post that is damned right on. want to find out how not alone in the blogosphere you are? check out his post.

and how about the post about the selective indignation factor exhibited by many of the "loser" side. this guy is a blog favorite, and one of the reasons he's been linked practically since i started blogging.