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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.


Saturday, April 30, 2005

remember your first dive?

to steal a line from a book i'm reading, "everyone remembers their first time. the first kiss, the first sweaty groping in the back seat of the car," that sort of thing. for submariners, their indelibly recorded first memory on the boats would be their first dive.

i was a nuke machinist mate, and had gone to engineering lab tech school after qualifying at prototype. for the uninitiated, what that means is i had to prove to the navy i could learn and operate a nuclear power plant, before they would let me loose on the fleet, with one of their multi-gazillion dollar vessels. i suppose they figured that if the trainees that cycled through prototype really really messed things up, it was way the hell out in the idaho desert, and nobody would notice when they brought in the big plows, and covered the area with 20 feet of fill. so i spent 2 years in the navy, without ever stepping onboard a naval vessel as a crew member, unless you count the 6 days i spent on the Sperry between prototype and the boat.

2 years in the naval nuclear power pipeline, learning everything from what kind of fibers make the best packing glands for high pressure steam valves, to what the crystalline phase transformation from face centered cubic to body center cubic in stainless steel meant, and why i cared. i was subjected to scrutiny, harassment, pressure, and whatever other types of torture you can do without physically touching a human. it was all part of the program. if you can't take the pressure of studying for a test, just how much pressure will you take when the valve bonnet on that high pressure air valve carries away right next to your head. nothing dramatic, nothing physical, other than the grinding hours of studying and testing and studying and qualifying and studying and.... i'm sure the navy SEALs would all cry crocodile tears "oh boohoo, did widdle nookie pooh have to study in a clean well lit carrel, with fresh coffee?" nah, it was just the constant psychological pressure to perform, constant for two years. will he make it? i was surprised at just how many didn't, that couldn't take the never ending demands for perfection.

so i'd been tested by the navy. nothing overt, nothing you could put your finger on, but by the time a nuke enlisted made it to a submarine, he'd already shown the navy he had a much better than even chance of handling the pressures of living and working onboard a nuclear submarine. we were smart, well trained, and as full of ourselves as any young men in the military can be, by the time we were sent out of the fold into the wild world of "the fleet".

you have to actually go into a submarine, and look around to get the impact of what a maze of gear it is. words are a poor substitute for experience. i met my boat in alameda, as she was offloading torpedoes prior to returning to her home port at mare island. i'd been sitting at squadron for a couple of weeks, typing security clearance paperwork for another boat in the detachment. i might have been a nuke, but i was also a warm body that knew a little about typing, and that's all that counted to the master chief. so i typed and learned more about the guys on that boat than their mothers knew. or what they wanted their mothers to know.

walking onboard my boat for the first time filled me with the most amazing sense of wonder. well, wondering how the hell i'm going to learn all these pipes and valves and machines, actually. the boat had a stink that can't be described other than using brownie's "fart in an oilcan", one of his favorite phrases.

i got the chance to get some time on the boat before getting underway for real. we did an evolution requiring drydocking the boat, and the very first day in drydock, i watched a shipyard worker slip on the seaslime along the hull as he was setting up the scaffolding. watched him twist and claw at the hull as he fell the 40 or so feet into the basin, crumbling like a rag doll on the piled gear staged on the dock floor. i was the topside phonetalker, and believe me when i say i did not approach the lifelines any closer than necessary.

3 1/2 weeks after reporting on board, the seawolf set sail for points unknown. when leaving from the san francisco bay area, specifically mare island, you sail down the mare island channel, into san pablo bay, under the richmond-san rafael bridge, and to alameda for weapons. we were not allowed to load at mare island. don't know why, didn't care. it meant a break before actually heading out to sea. once the weapon loadout was done, it was past alcatraz island, under the golden gate bridge, along the marin headlands, through the potato patch, past the farallon islands to the 100 fathom curve. during the transit, i heard "RIG SHIP FOR DIVE".

the crew was checking the systems were lined up for dive, and then an officer walked through the compartment reperforming the checks. it was a ritualistic dance, coordinated to insure all the systems and components the boat needed to get back to the surface were working, and would work if needed. it also checked to see if the systems were lined up to allow the boat to dive. ballast tank valves were cycled, backup valves run in and out, so much to do and check i was afraid someone would miss a step. i knew i'd never learn all that stuff, and marveled at the ease the watchstanders had in finding and checking everything off. even if they had the compartment bill in hand, it still amazed me. oh please, oh please, don't mess anything up. pleeeeeeze. AOOOGGGAAA AOOOOGA DIVE DIVE

nothing happens. well, that's not true. you hear what sounds like air escaping the ballast tanks (not that you know what the sound is, you just hear it). and nothing. then, the deck starts to tilt forward a little bit, and the constant side to side rocking since leaving the golden gate smooths out. how the hell can that guy be so nonchalant? and the deck tilts a little more. tinkling sounds of wrenches shifting in their drawer. the crash of the watch's coffee cup hitting the deck, because he forgot to put it in the cup holder. a leveling out. the skipper comes on the speakers, giving us his obligatory pep talk about the upcoming mission, and how we are going to be blah blah blah. ever see the Peanut's television shows? where charlie brown and gang can all converse between themselves and the audience understands, but when an adult speaks, it's whawhawhawhawha, incomprehensible to the audience? that's the ships PA system for a while, until you get so used to hearing announcements that you no longer look to see if someone else heard it, so you can ask WTF was just said. it didn't matter if the skipper had been standing right next to me though. i wouldn't have heard him. i was listening for the sounds of rushing water so intently i could hear the blood rushing around inside my body.

after a while, i noticed that that i was the only one staring down into the bilge area. well, me and the other new guy. the salts were all looking in the overhead for leaks. that didn't make any sense to me. hell, everyone knew that if you had a leak, you would see it in the bilges. not quite. submarine hulls are curved, and if we had a bad leak, the first place you would probably see it would be in the overhead, not the bilge. once i learned that, it was easy to see if a new guy had ever been to sea on a submarine. if he looked into the bilges on the dive, he was a newbie, regardless of his rank or rate.

as we leveled off, the lack of motion struck me. here we'd been on the surface rocking and rolling, and yet, after diving the boat, the deck was as steady as a sidewalk. ok, a sidewalk in earthquake land, but still, markedly different than on the surface. and quiet. until the sound of the boat cutting through the water while surfaced is gone, you don't notice just how noisy the waves and wake were. once you dove the boat, your universe was defined by a pipe stuffed with rotating machinery and pipes, valves and switchboards, motors and wiring. nothing was really noisy. the deck vibrated with a hum in sync with the gear next to it. i felt light, light enough to float if i didn't grab something to hold on to. my blood was effervescent, the skin tingling as i tried to keep the hair on my arms from standing so straight it would pull itself out of the roots. i was hyperventillating. nothing dramatic, no gasping for air bent over trying to keep from passing out hyperventillating. i was breathing fast from elation, not fear. i was here! i was on a united states by god damned friggin' submarine, and i was UNDERWATER and UNDERWAY.

this wasn't just the culmination of two years of navy schools. this was the realization of a dream i'd had since i was a young teenager. when i was asked what academic series i wanted to take going into high school, i told the councilor "whatever i need to do to be a nuclear submariner". this was it! i was really really on a submarine. i had done it. man, i remember that day like it was yesterday. i remember the stark terror and pure elation. i remember the wonderment of actually punching holes in the ocean from inside that boat. i remember the way all the skin on my body tightened and tingled, how the noise went from a standard engineroom to quiet, and back to a standard engineroom, as if someone had taken my ears' volume control knob and cycled it between 10 and 1 and back to 10. i remember the pride i felt at finally achieving this goal i'd been striving towards for at least 7 years. for a 20 year old, that was over a third of my life i'd been working for and looking forward to this day.

i never lost the thrill of the dive. after the first one, i lost the fear, but never the thrill. there was nothing mundane about diving a submarine below the surface of the ocean.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

cat blog friday, a fourfer

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sheba, working on her deck camouflage. so far she's perfected the couch and the garden. but i think she's going to have trouble blending in with that big pink bucket behind her.

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hey! can't a girl take a bath in private anymore?

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"as soon as he turns his back...wham!" too bad spooky-cat doesn't have a chance of blending in during the day.

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that bothenook is crazy. ever since he read about some recipe on the internet he's been trying to get me to climb into this big metal thing. no way, no food in there.

what's wrong with this picture?

ok, this is the USS Dallas (SSN-700) getting underway. notice anything unusual about this picture? no, it makes perfect sense they would have a longhorn rack on the sail. it is the dallas, after all.
when did submariners start wearing kevlar brainbuckets? are the seagulls in the employ of the iraqis? do they drop explosive presents from on high? maybe it's just me, but unless a submarine was pulling into a known threat harbor, WTF are they doing wearing army helmets? what the hell happened to the baseball caps, you know the ones. the ones designed to keep you from burning your fair submariner skin with hours of sunlight exposure topside getting underway?
and another thing. WTF is the crew of the dallas wearing kevlar for when they could be wearing a stetson, and nobody would blink an eye? they are the dallas after all.
the pussification of the new navy. so sad

politics burnout

i was looking over my blog, and noticed something odd. almost all of my posts lately have been either recipes, or non-political. it's not that i don't care about what is going on. others have addressed my issues much better than i can, so i've just not posted about the stuff that has flipped my switch. i'm sure this will pass.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

fava beans with onion, garlic, tomatoes and linguica

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these are so beautiful, I have a larger image linked to the picture.

I mentioned pop's harvested the first of the fava beans this week, and I got a grocery bag full right out of the field. There are as many different ways to fix these as there are cooks. my recipe is a compilation of many attempts, and i like to think they are as good as any you will find at anyone's table.

  • 1 to 2 quarts shelled fava beans
  • 1 10 ounce tub of sweet grape tomatoes, or 1 10 ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes. i used the fresh only because they were sitting on the counter, and would have gone bad soon. improvisation is the key to discovery!
  • 1/2 white onion, diced or chopped small
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 sticks (one package) linguica sausage. or any sausage you happen to like or have on hand. Chorizo, andouli, or even kielbasa would work, but for my money, go with the lingo.

step 1: boil the beans. why? because they won't cook in enough time to not burn everything else in the pan, that's why. but there's another reason. this is a bit anal of me, but i boil the beans until the skins puff up like this:
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then i drain and let them cool until i can handle them without burning my fingers. make sure you don't over boil. watch until the skins start poofing, then pull them off of the heat. if you don't, you'll end up with mashed rather than sauted beans.
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while the beans are coming to a boil, get your other stuff ready for the pan. chop up the sausage, and start browning it
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and get your other ingredients
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chopped up and ready.
when the beans are cool (cheat a little and run cold water over them), rip off the end of the skin, and squeeze out the bean. Try not to mush them.
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when the lingo is going good, add the onion, garlic and tomatoes. saute until the onion starts to turn translucent.
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notice the tomatoes are still whole. that's ok, because here's where i play fast and loose with cooking techniques. after the onions show it's been long enough, take a potato masher, and squish the tomatoes. great fun, but a little messy. here's what it looks like just before throwing in the beans
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now toss in the beans, and saute until done, about 7 to 8 minutes, less if you got carried away with the boiling step. this is what it will look like just before pulling it off the stove, and eating
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now, why did i peel the beans? if you don't they are tough, and a little bitter.

what do you drink with this meal? water. lots of it. or beer. forget the wine for this meal. this is peasant food.

don't salt or pepper during prep. let the diner season to taste, because the sausage usually has enough seasonings already, and you could overdo it.

no oil was used, if you notice. if you use a fatty enough sausage, like lingo, then you won't need any oil. just keep adding ingredients to the pan. that's why you brown the sausage first. you might need to add a little water after adding the onions, garlic, and tomatoes. do so sparingly, but keep in mind the tomatoes will only cook where heat is applied. if you rely only on the liquids generated in the pan, the tomatoes will not cook until the mashing step, and then it's probably going to be too late, since you're not going to have this on the fire for much longer. if you use canned tomatoes, you won't have to add any additional liquids.


hmm, linguica worked well. i wonder how it would do with a little liver, and a fine bottle of Chianti?

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

beauty beyond imagining

the universe constantly serves up unimaginable beauty, if you know where to look.

image source here

another reason why i explore the blogosphere

a couple of my favorite stops on the sphere belong to the state department republican underground. they consistently illuminate and explain issues that i am interested in. but what i really enjoy is the exchange their posts generates.
the post by dr. demarche is great example of intelligent and well presented thought. comparing the national remembrance of ANZAC day down under to the current lack of historical knowledge in germany is enlightening, as are the responses.

and who could ignore new sisyphus?. i think the best part of this post, where Sis is pointing out there really are bad guys out there, can be found in the exchanges in the comments section. it doesn't take a lot to bring out the extremes on both sides of this issue.
i recommend their blogs without reservation, and read them both every day, just to see what is on their minds.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

coming to a recipe blog near you

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yay... pop's first big crop of the year is fava beans. and i got some of the first harvested today. so guess what i'm fixing for dinner tomorrow? no, silly, not liver.

what to do with that hambone in the freezer

so, you had a big ham for easter dinner, and stuck the bone and the scraps in the freezer. you hoped someone would come along and rescue you by trotting out a great bean soup recipe. never fear, bothenook is here!

  • 1 bag of small white or navy beans
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • a couple of shakes of your favorite season salt or season mix. there are more than i can count, but some of the ones i like to use are Mrs. Dash season mix, or any cajun seasoning mix. use sparingly
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ham bone and scraps, or a smoked hamhock, available from most supermarkets

take the ham bone, or hamhock, and toss it into water in a big pot. add the bay leaves, and bring to a boil. turn down to a simmer, and cook for an hour or so. longer if you forget to look at the clock like i did. a couple of hours didn't hurt this at all. as a matter of fact, it helped cook out the gelatin from the marrow, and gave the soup a velvety consistency that i really liked.

beans: there are two ways to go about these little gems. actually three, if you buy canned beans instead of dried. but you wouldn't do that, now would you? even if you were in a relative hurry, and wanted to get with the program? i thought not. so how do you get the beans ready to make a wonderful soup? first, pick them over and make sure there are no little stones or dirt in them. very important. we don't want to be visiting the dentist for a new crown, now do we? didn't think so. so once they are cleaned, you can go two ways from here.
process one: let beans soak overnight, covered with water. the next day, discard the liquid and rinse the beans.
process two: cover the beans with water, and bring to a boil. turn off the heat, and let them soak for about an hour and a half, and then drain.
both of these work well for bean soup. i used the second method.

stock: allow the liquid you cooked the bone and scraps in to cool a little, then pull out the bone with a pair of tongs. shred the remaining meat off of the bone. chop up any of the scraps to bitty pieces. i usually strain the liquid i cooked the hambone in into a big soup pot. i then add the beans, and get them on the fire, bringing it to a boil. once it's boiling, turn down the heat to a simmer.
while the beans are hanging out in the stock, i prep the carrots, onion, garlic, and celery, and toss into the pot, along with all of the shredded ham.
this is what it looks like at the beginning of the cooking process
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see all of the veggies? well, they cook down pretty well after the soup has been simmering covered for a couple of hours. the whole house smells like heaven while this soup bubbles on the stove.
after about 2 hours of simmering, the soup should be ready. i know i was more than ready to taste it after smelling it cook. here is what the cooked soup will look like
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where i grew up, there were three things required for this to be a meal. the first was cornbread. the second and third were condiments
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catsup, and hot sauce.

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

Monday, April 25, 2005

five things

willyshakes has issued a challenge of sorts. i'll give it a shot, but i'm not some overeducated highbrow english lit dude, so my list may not have the same gravitas as his. except for his last entry. that sounds a lot like me, and it's obvious that you can take the submariner, plop him in the middle of the most liberal surroundings, and he'll still fight the brainwashing, proving once again that you CAN NOT take the submarine out of the sailor, no matter how hard you try.
that said, here's his meme, followed by my responses

The rules state: Following there is a list of different occupations. You must select at least five of them. You may add more if you like to your list before you pass it on (after you select five of the items as it was passed to you).

Of the five you selected, you are to finish each phrase with what you would do as a member of that profession. Then pass it on to three fine bloggers.

Here's that list:

If I could be a scientist...
If I could be a farmer...
If I could be a musician...
If I could be a doctor...
If I could be a painter...
If I could be a gardener...
If I could be a missionary...
If I could be a chef...
If I could be an architect...
If I could be a linguist...
If I could be a psychologist...
If I could be a librarian...
If I could be an athlete...
If I could be a lawyer...
If I could be an innkeeper...
If I could be a professor...
If I could be a writer...
If I could be a backup dancer...
If I could be a llama-rider...
If I could be a bonnie pirate...
If I could be a midget stripper...
If I could be a proctologist...
If I could be a TV-Chat Show host...

if i could be a scientist...no wait, that won't work. been there, doing that. hmm this might be harder than i thought.

if i could be a missionary, i'd promise to change my pos... no, can't use that, because i'm trying to keep this a clean board. darn, this is really tough.

if i could be a linguist, i'd be as cunning a linguist as i c.... damn, there i go again. sorry kids. ask daddy what the joke is.

if i could be a midget stripper, i'd discover once again that the world smells different to a midget. ok, i'm getting the hang of this. maybe this isn't as difficult as i was making it out to be..

if i could be a lawyer, i'd shoot mys... no, can't go there. i don't want the impression given that i'm for spurious use of firearms. but that wouldn't be that frivolous a use, would it? so, i've only got one so far. drats.

if i could be a chef, i'd open a small intimate dining establishment, and invite only my friends... oh wait, i do that already. heck with it, i'm going with this. two down, only three more to go.

if i could be a proctologist, i'd work like crazy to get a job at a major research center. my mission would be to find a cure for cranial rectumitis, and i'd make sure that cure would be available for free to all of those in this country who's heads are firmly planted up their ass... oh, this is an awful lot like willy's mike al'mor comment. great minds must think alike i guess.

so willy, how've i done so far?

if i could be a backup dancer, i'd convince anna kournikova that she has a brilliant singing career ahead of her, but only if i could be one of her dancers. then i'd do a kevin whatshisname that hooked up with brit spears. stick around long enough for bragging rights, and split, with millions. of course, my wife might have a few things to say about this, but hell, it WOULD be a way to make a quick million or so. yeah, that's the ticket. oh, oh, only one to go. my head hurts from trying to keep this civil, and civilized.

if i could be an athlete, i'd be the craziest sombich on the field. that way, after i'm old, fat, broken down, and no longer able to earn a living, i'd still be tapped for sports tv talk shows, and color commentary. great way to extend my career.

hey, i did it! who's next?

Friday, April 22, 2005

getting capped in the crapper

ordinarily, i defend the right to own and use firearms. i expect those who do so are at least competent in their use and care. i hold military and police to a higher standard than the average Joe, since cops and soldiers carry weapons all the time. when i read about things like this, i get so mad i could scream. i thought of writing something witty about the location and the actions leading to the shooting, but i just can't. this cop should get his gun pulled, and sent packing. if he can't keep the damned thing holstered while taking a piss, he's jeopardizing everyone within at least a half mile of him at all times. a pistol that falls out of a holster when taking a leak can be stolen and used against him and/or anyone around him. look what happened when they had this bitty woman guard and accompany that big bruiser that killed the judge and others in the courtroom down south. this is just criminal. probably stupid, criminally stupid as well.
damn, i hate when idiots add fuel to the anti gun fires. asshole

Thursday, April 21, 2005

ribs, man do i love ribs

we threw a house warming party a couple of weekends ago. i started out buying 18 pounds of ribs, and figured that wouldn't be enough. i ended up with about 50 pounds. yup. 16 full racks of ribs. so what the hell do you do with that many ribs? besides hope someone else cooks them and invites you to the party?

the night before the party, i precooked the ribs. how, you ask? boiled the hell out of them, that's how.
precooking (boiling) the ribs:
batch 1: big pot, 4 liters of regular pepsi, boiling. drop slabs in, being sure to not crowd them too much. i have a good sized stock pot, so i was able to put two slabs in. boil for an hour. i skimmed off the nasty foam a time or two during cooking.

batch 2: big pot, water to cover ribs. in the pot, i tossed in a couple (well, half a head) of cloves of garlic, crushed, but not minced. didn't figure it would be necessary. boil ribs for about an hour.

repeat until done. as you Can guess, this took a good part of my evening.

after the ribs were boiled, i prepared them for the fire by putting a dry rub on them, wrapping them in foil, and tossing into the fridge until the next day.

dry rub 1: i used this on the ribs going into the smoker, since it is a lot lower in temperature, and i didn't have to worry about the rub burning on the grill.

this rub came from stuff i had in the spice rack. explore. the flavors you keep in your pantry are probably your favorites, so use them. no need to go out and buy any, unless you don't have ANY, in which case, my mix is a good starting point.
  • 1 cup brown sugar. i like dark brown for ribs, more of a molasses flavor
  • 3 tbs kosher salt (you can use 1 tbs more if you don't use other season salts. i like season salts like celery salt, or cajun, or even lowery's)
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder, or a couple of tbs of dried onion flakes. i put a little of both in
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp cajun seasoning (or my favorite Tony Chacher's creole seasonings)
  • 1 tsp paprika (i like hungarian myself, but it's not required)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder, or chili powder, or 1/2 tsp each. what the hell, live a little
  • a couple of good shakes of lowery's season salt, and a couple of celery salt. these are not required, but they do make a great addition
  • wait, there's more!
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary powder or rubbed. you don't want a lot of chunkies in this mix

looks like a lot, i know. it's just a zip through the spice rack, truth be told. i figured all of these things would work with pork ribs, so i added them.
toss it all into a bowl, and mix it up with a fork or wisk.

when the ribs cooked in the pepsi cooled, i placed them on a big sheet of foil, packed both sides with rub, and sealed it up. remember, they are going to drain a bit, and you don't want that juice all over your fridge. pop them in the fridge until the next morning. these ribs were destined for the smoker.

rub 2
this was concocted because i was going to use bbq sauce on a majority of the ribs, since that's what folks expect when they come to a bbq. bbq sauce. since bbq sauce is already pretty sweet, i built a rub without any sugar.
  • 4 tbs kosher salt
  • 1 tbs garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp cajun season salt
  • grated orange peel, about 1/2 an orange worth (hey, i've got a tree in my back yard. might as well use them!)

wisk together, and spread on the ribs once they cool enough to handle. wrap in foil, and refridgerate overnite.

smoker: prep smoker by digging out that 1/2 empty white wine bottle from the bottom shelf. toss a couple of chunks of apple wood and a couple of hickory into a ziploc bag, pour in about a cup of wine, and then fill with water to just cover the chunks. let them soak for at least 1/2 an hour. or, do like i did, and start soaking them the night before.
get the smoker heated up, and toss the chunks on the fire. i use a bitty cast iron skillet, since my smoker is electric. works wonders. just make sure the skillet is resting directly on the heating element. add the water bowl, put the rest of the wine into the bowl, and add enough boiling water to make about a quart to a quart and a half. put in the racks, and drop the ribs on.
note: i started the smoker at 0900 to be sure the ribs were done by 1400. they were done to perfection, but it takes a lot longer than you might think. 6 hours was just right. no wind, and the weather was nice, cool but not brisk. outside temp affects cooking time. so does opening the smoker to see how things are going. figure about an extra 1/2 hour each time you open the smoker. lookie-loos be ware.
NOTE if you don't have a smoker, but have a kettle grill, you can get pretty close by doing the following. use about 1/2 the coals you normally would. get them fired up, and set up for indirect heat. place an aluminum pan on the coal grate between the two piles of coals, add boiling water, toss on your wood chunks, and let it rip. add 5 or so coals per side per hour until ribs done to about 150-160 internal temp.

preps: toss a couple chunks of apple and hickory in a bag and soak with water for at least a half hour. i use a weber kettle grill, so cooking with indirect heat is easy. 1/2 the coals on each side, with a big opening in the middle.
once the coals are hot, drop the wood on the fire, place the top grill on, and take two slabs of ribs, smothered in your favorite bbq sauce. keep a bunch of sauce handy, since you'll want to baste the top rack of ribs each time you rotate them. most of the sauce is going to end up in the bottom of the kettle anyway as they cook, so you need to replenish the sauce as you cook. lay one slab on the grill, and place the second on top of the first. cover and walk away for about 20 minutes. come back, and rotate the top slab to the bottom, and cover. repeat twice more, flipping the ribs to the other side on trip three. by the end of the hour, both sides of both slabs will have been on the grill itself. just before taking them off, toss them to the sides above the coals and blast each side long enough to start turning the sauce black. this is really a cosmetic step, since most folks that have eaten home cooked bbq ribs expect them to be burned to a crisp, and tough as shoe leather. at least give them the appearance of burned to a crisp with a little blackening of the sauce. they will be amazed at how tender and juicy these ribs are. they'll think you are a genius.

of course, if you LIKE your ribs leather tough and dried out, you can always set up your grill for standard q'ing and drop the ribs right over the coals in the traditional way. they'll still turn out darned good, because you don't have to spend a lot of time over the fire (remember, we boiled them the night before). be sure to watch and not burn them too badly though. slather on the sauce, drop them on, turn when the sauce starts to blacken, and pull off when the second side is smokin'. they'll be a little drier, and tougher than the indirect method, but conversely, they'll be done within 10 minutes of hitting the grill. nice trade off.

also note that i cooked 4 slabs with just the second rub, no sauce on the bbq. they turned out great.

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

installment 2, cat blog friday

ok, so it's a little early, but what can i say. it's friday somewhere out there.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

here's sheba again, working on her garden camo. she's already got the couch down pat.

sometimes i wish i was a cat. they can sleep any time, any where, and it's expected of them. me, i start to nod off during a meeting, and boy do i catch a lot of Grief.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

"My concern is how did an upstanding citizen

like my son, my pride and joy, get to (sic) into this situation?"

well, my answer to sgt. hasan akbar's father is this: your son subscribes to a "religion" that preaches hate. An Egyptian friend of mine has equated the fundamental sects of islam to satanism. its foundations are built on hate, death, and evil, rewarding murderous acts with paradise. all in the name of allah. that, sir, is what got your derelict of a human being into the situation he is in now. there is no other blame to be spread.

edit 4/21/05 leave it to the military to cut to the chase. looks like this rat bastard was found guilty after only a couple of hours of deliberation. if this same jury deems the punishment appropriate, akbar faces the death penalty, one of Six in the federal military system. i still say they need to release him into the general population of some military prison. he'd be dead in less than a week.

a compendium of papal posts

ok, for what it's worth, i'm an atheist. totally non-religious. got that way by studying to be a presbyterian minister. completely lost my faith when i started questioning "conventional wisdom" and discovered independent thought. but i married a catholic, so i guess that makes me a "catholic, once removed", or something. why do i care about what's happening with the pope? he has a say in a shitload of people's lives, is why. and, because the "liberal element" of our country is so freaked out by "god's rotweiller", of course. so here are a couple of posts gleaned while surfing the usual suspects:

lileks bleat today carries a couple of great reminders on why it really doesn't matter to the church what the hell american's think (read that, over-arching, strident tub thumpers for change) about the selection. and he has one of the great quotes in this whole flap
Yes, yes, easy for me to say, its not my church. New age of oppression and intolerance, and all that. Write me when hot-eyed Jesuits walk into a mosque in Qom with ten pounds of Cemtex strapped to their chest.

new sisyphus examines the near hysterical caterwauling from the main stream press regarding Benny's past.

our crazy expat in japan has a few musings about the potential impact of the selection. on a side note, entirely removed from this discussion, i recommend you check out his babe theory of revolution. i laughed my ass off, and then, agreed with the basic premise.

and we can't forget the musings of our very own willyshakes, who actually IS a catholic. he posts some great references, and makes a comment or two worthy of a PhD english lit dude. (if you haven't guessed, i like pinging on him, because most engineering types find english lit academics worthy of jest. and he's BOTH. curious hybrid. i'd like to sit in one of his classes. i'd probably learn something useful, rather than get pummeled with suppositions, harebrained theories, and useless politics).

there are a lot of other posts out there, but these are pretty generic regarding reasoned postings. for a few examples of tomfoolery, i suggest checking out the following posts from the premier right wing satire site here and here and of course, here, which i've already referenced once in this blog.

edit: and THIS is why i read varifrank every day.

and what is probably one of the best lines regarding this whole papal selection was on talk radio yesterday. i can't remember who it was i was listening to, probably rush. he thought the whole issue with the MSM being in a snit was hilarious. what really tickled me is that he said "once again, the main stream media got it wrong. completely wrong".
the "conventional wisdom" in this country was that Benny was too controversial, too conservative, and nobody in their right minds would select him to be pope. i suppose that "conventional wisdom" is rapidly becoming the most overused oxymoron since "military intellegence".

i know i've thought of this more than once

this is someone i can relate to. reminds me of the old Bill Mauldin cartoon of the cavalry sargent pulling a .45 to put his jeep out of misery.

and also on the odd front, there may be some sort of connection between this and the burial of the pope. hmm, polish pope, polish dope being turned into something sweet from something really hazardous... sounds like the cardinals need to add this to their list of reasons why they think JPII should be raised to sainthood. hey, didn't JC do something like this with water? can you imagine what the water in those days was like? why do you think they all drank wine?

on capitalization and typing speed

both joel and gus have commented in their blogs at one time or another that they wish i would use capital letters in my posts. ok. here's why i don't. it's not a real good reason, but it works for me. when i first started banging around the web, i used a DAMNED SLOW modem to communicate with (anyone remember 9.6K modems?). when popping into bulletin boards, and message boards, the only way to get a word in was to type as fast as you could, hit send, and hope the message loaded before there were so many messages that yours scrolled right off the screen before anyone could read it. i found that my normal 60 word per minute typing speed cranked up to around 70-75 wpm if i followed the lead of many posters, and quit using capital letters. that and all of the stupid lol and roflmao acronyms. i've since weaned myself off of those, but the caps thing is still part of my web personae. however, noting that we are now in the broadband era, and i can take as long to type as i want, since the posts won't scroll away like they used to, i shall endeavor to utilize at least one Capital letter per post, hoping this will in some way make my screeds a little more readable. perhaps i'll even insert mUltiple caps at some point.

i was worried until i read that

the new pope is still alive. whew. the thought of having to go through the whole pope is dying, pope is dead, white smoke/black smoke thing again so soon had me worried.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

some really good news for diabetes sufferers

bbc has an article about a woman who cured her daughter of diabetes with a cell donation. a man in the uk has been treated and cured as well. this is really good news for the millions of folks out there that have type I diabetes. thankfully, i've been given a pass on this particular malady, at least so far. but the news coming out of the research front has to be heartening to those who have been stricken.

on another front, the catholic church has a new pope. he hasn't been announced yet, but i'll bet a small round powder sugar coated confection that this is going to be the lead news story for at least a couple of days. we'll get the whole history lesson and biography, fed one or two paragraphs at a time to make sure the information can be used to fill as much time on the news as possible.

Monday, April 18, 2005

wonder who linked?

i saw today's traffic went way beyond the norm. almost every visitor headed off to see why dodge trucks were built for girlie men. that's cool. but i wish i knew who was linking, so i can go snoop around. obviously it's someone with my sense of humor, so i'd probably enjoy the tour.

a not too hypothetical question

if we can get high resolution images of the reactor complex in north korea, which is in the news again, why can't we program a couple of cruise missiles and do an Israeli/Iraq reactor thing on them? if they are really so dangerous to the well being of the entire world, and i think they are, why don't we simply take them out of the equation? hell, when the iraqis were going great guns towards developing a nuke weapon, using fuel from their reactor complex, the Israelis flattened the place....no more problem. why not the same for North Korea? i know that it may sound simplistic, but the fact of the matter is, they are dangerous, and they have few if any friends in the international realm that would come to their aid.
war monger...no. all for taking out a problem before it becomes a conflagration, absolutely.

for you IE users, sorry

i just fired up internet explorer for the first time in over a year, and bleah, my blog looks like crap. i use firefox as a browser, and the layout looks good there. sux in i.e. anyone a wizkid that knows how to make the right hand stuff load at the top instead of the bottom of the last entry, without screwing up how it looks in firefox?

on base closures

here's a great link to the possible base closures in new england. of particular note is the fact that both portsmouth naval shipyard, and new london's submarine base are in the crosshairs.
i've been through 2 base closures, mare island naval shipyard, and mcclellan air force base, both here in northern california. while the brac commission isn't supposed to be "political", we suffered because the navy simply washed it's hands of us. why? because of many factors ranging from the local voter refusal to allow the USS Missouri to homeport in alameda, to the constant and vocal opposition to any and all things military. the local people (read that voters) saw only one thing: they didn't want a military presence in their communities. and they let the military know by constant protests, and onerous ordinances that made functioning almost impossible, made possible only at great expense. so...we got hit. in a short period of time northern california lost (i don't think this is an all inclusive list, but it's close) mare island naval shipyard, hunters point naval shipyard, alameda naval air station, oakland naval supply depot, moffit field naval air station, treasure island navy base, the presidio army base, oakland army depot, fort ord army base, mather air force base, and mcclellan air force base.
bottom line: if there isn't a strong community support, chances are the military won't fight too hard to keep the base. we found that out to our pain. i guess the bay area and surrounding environs reaped what they had sown. if the navy felt welcome here, they would have fought a lot harder to keep the bases. new england has lost it's pro military fervor of years past, and i think that's going to be a telling factor in the upcoming round of closures.

another boat sailor

i found this dude back in december, bookmarked him for inclusion, then reformated the computer. smart huh? well, i found him again. welcome to 15dnBlog, a bubblehead that sailed in the RN onboard HMS Repulse. howdy.

Friday, April 15, 2005

a closer view of china and japan

a number of us have been blogging about china lately. here is another view from an american expat living in japan. he's a lot closer to what's going on, and makes a cogent arguement for why tensions in the region are heating up.
and the wizards over at Winds of Change post about this as well.

a not for prime time recipe: beer roasted cat

so i was wandering around the various blogs i have linked, and stopped by Molten Eagle's for a little refreshment. what i found tickled the perverse in me so much that i just had to steal it and share it with those foolish enough not to visit his site.
what am i talking about? how does beer marinaded cat sound? yup beer roasted cat. now before you go visiting, i must warn you the site is pretty graphic, and it's posted on what looks like a sex site. so be warned. and if you don't know how to get a cat to try this on (as far as i know, no supermarket chain carries them in the meat case), you might want to check out this site.
would i eat a cat? not if there was something else to eat. have i ever eaten cat? i don't know. we used to get all kinds of mystery meat from street vendors all across southeast asia and the pacific rim. hell, i have probably eaten monkey, sea gull, dog, horse (well, actually, i have eaten horse. it was practically a staple in france when i lived there) and any number of game critters. so what's the big deal about cat? it's a delicacy in parts of the world. am i suggesting you kill your cat and eat it? depends. does it come into my yard and crap all over everything, and piss on my exercise bike on the back patio? then yes, kill your cat and eat it.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

another sign of the coming apocalypse

read it and weep for the approach of the end.

these monkeys aren't the only ones agog at the latest sign of the imminent collapse of civilization.

on a side note: caption contest!
mine: the neighbors were not amused by allan and ali's at the crack of dawn a cappella rendition of Nature Boy. Silly americans.

puleeez, get a grip, get a life

some folks must have way way too much time on their hands. someone wants to change the name of one of northern california's landmark mountains because it "offends his religious sensibilities". i want to puke. aren't there a lot of things wrong with the world that a little energy expended by these whacks could help alleviate? such as intolerance and ignorance? oh, sorry. hard to drain the pool when you are standing nose deep in it.

“You know, we don’t have to be your friends”

Varifrank has posted a very good piece about the current state of affairs between the u.s. and europe. he's not as pessimistic as i am, but he does in fact lay out some well thought out and presented analyses regarding the european view of us, and our country. one quote i thought telling was
I was joking with someone the other day that the way things are going, I’m more likely to get mugged for being an American in Paris than I would be as an American in Beirut.

i felt that a lot in canada when my dad and i took a rental from seattle to anchorage via the alaskan highway. the locals were friendly, and genuinely seemed to enjoy our conversations. the imports from other parts of canada, such as the lady working in one of the tourist spots we stopped off in, seemed to wish we would just go away, and make room for the tour group from calais. i talked to her for a while, and the upshot of the conversation was that in toronto, the u.s. has taken on the role of the great satan. that might be an exaggeration, but it's close. the western canadians seemed to identify more with us than they did with the eastern canuks, and the easterners all seemed to identify with europe. one gent apologized to me (imagine that) for canada not having troops in the coalition in iraq. he said the problem was ottowa and the "freakin' leftists" running the country.

some great images and postings from iraq

by iraqis.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
click for larger image

the photo caption states there are more than 2 million cell phones in use since january 2004, where there were none prior. for an interesting series of blog essays, and especially the posting response remarks, check out Friends of Democracy Info. thanks to Iraq the Model for the tip. Check out the latest series of entries for a remarkable picture of how the emergence of technology has changed how iraqi's see their own country, as well as showing the western world a different view from the daily casualty figures we get on the television here in the u.s.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

photo vacations

now that our friendly bespectacled dentist has flown the coop and landed in france, i thought i'd share a photoblog trip of one of my daughter's favorite playmates. i wish i knew where the hell my correspondent finds these sites. i thought i spent a ton of time on the web.
anyway, here's Barbi does Jamaica.

thanks BobT

for this very funny picture. it's title is Middle East Peace Negotiations, Texas Style.
click for larger image
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

congrats jeff

one of the dudes i work with came back from the United States of America Snowboard Assn. national competitions on copper mountain in colorado. he won first place in both Combined Overall, and Triple Overall for the Kahuna class (50-59). not bad for someone that broke a bunch of ribs and his collar bone 6 weeks before nationals at a local competition. good on ya jeff. now, when are you going to be on television doing geritol ads?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

what is it with me and internet quizes

i mean, what the heck do i care? so why do i take them? what's the deal? silly little time wasters, to be sure, but then, i spend a lot of wasted time poking around the corners of the net, so what's the big deal?
i found this quiz over at my favorite blue heron's site. hey C, when you guys finally head west, swing by! i mean, what the hell, it's only an extra thousand miles or so!

You're The Guns of August!

by Barbara Tuchman

Though you're interested in war, what you really want to know is what causes war. You're out to expose imperialism, militarism, and nationalism for what they really are. Nevertheless, you're always living in the past and have a hard time dealing with what's going on today. You're also far more focused on Europe than anywhere else in the world. A fitting motto for you might be "Guns do kill, but so can diplomats."

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Friday, April 08, 2005

carnival of recipes # gasp 34 up and running

over at aussie wife. she did a great job this week.

my first Cat Blog Friday entry

this is Sheba, our miniature calico. she's 16 years old, and has perfected the camouflage trick with the couch.
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Thursday, April 07, 2005

these are too freaking good to keep.

"I'm so far down the food chain, i have plankton bites on my butt"
"Let's call "Lessons Learned" what they really are: Institutionalizd scab picking"

found these over at the far east cynic, an expat in japan. i think some of the stuff he posts is too damned funny for words, and some of his stuff pisses me off. what a great combination. he's going to become a regular read, and a linked poster.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Judenhass, a different look at anti-semitism

i'm white bread, plain vanilla, euro-mutt, with just the slightest possibility of amerind mixed into the blend (my great grandfather was a "train orphan"), so what was in his contribution to the gene pool is purely a matter of speculation. he made it as far west as spokane washington before a family took him in. hell, i'm probably at least as much amerind as ward churchill.
so what i am trying to say is that i am the prototypical american, basically rootless compared to most europeans. i am an american. my language, history, morals, values, and attitudes are american, through and through. i won't say regionally american, because i've been all over, and lived in quite a few of the regions in this country. one of the things i've never understood, and perhaps it's because of all the people i was exposed to as a youngster, is bigotry. i don't care what flavor, i just don't get it. and one of the biggest puzzles to me is hate directed towards jews, especially the flavor of hate some of my relatives in germany probably exhibited during the last century. maybe i'm just too stupid to see what it is that brings these feelings out, but it's so foreign to me that i need help understanding. i've made it to 50, and i still don't get it.
you would think that given the history of western civilization, if any group would be venerated, it would be the jews. look at the last century as an example. what is the percentage of nobel laureates that are of jewish descent? i saw a list some time ago, and can't find it now, but the list of jews is practically the whole list.
why the blog? Photios posted something that you should read. i did, and it triggered a WTF in my head that i just had to get down and publish.

file this under "what took so long?"

and why can't we do this in california? what am i talking about? a state government that actually thinks it's citizens are adults, and should be capable of protecting themselves, that's what.
The Florida House of Representatives, citing the need to allow people to "stand their ground," voted 94-20 to codify and expand court rulings that already allow people to use deadly force to protect themselves in their homes without first trying to escape.
. read the rest of the article here. the only thing about this whole article that pisses me off is that it is filed under "oddly enough". but then, it is odd that a government would trust it's people to act responsibly. no "nanny state" hand wringing. just common sense. hey bad guys, watch out. this idea might spread throughout the land. well, it could happen. when pigs fly, but it could happen.
here in california, the safest, most protected and coddled citizens are it's criminals. and that, my friends, is criminal in and of itself.

Congressional Medal of Honor awarded

posthumously to Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith, United States Army. read the citation here.
where do we keep finding men of this caliber? i know that extraordinary circumstances can bring out the extraordinary in man, but if that was me, i'd have been duckin' and coverin'. a heartfelt salute to a brave man.

yummy broccoli salad

we are having a "house warming/open house" party this saturday. the weather looks like it will behave, so it's a go!
besides the usual outdoors food, like the 18 pounds of ribs i bought yesterday, and the burgers and dogs for the kids, i am going to make what has to be my favorite salad of all time. i got this recipe from one of my wife's friends, and it has become a staple for parties and get togethers. thanks helen, i probably would have never known about this if it hadn't been for you!

Broccoli salad

  • 2 heads broccoli, coarsely chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (no, not in the shell! now wouldn't THAT be a good source of fiber....)
  • 1/2 cup bacon bits, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 cup white raisins, plumped...more on this later

  • dressing:
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs vinegar (i use white wine vinegar, but i don't think it really matters

cook bacon crisp, drain well. dice bacon into "bacon bits" sized pieces. or you can buy ready made "real bacon bits". don't, no way, no how, use fake bacon bits. bleah.
plumping the raisins: you can do this in a couple of hours by covering the raisins with cold water and setting aside for a while. i prefer using white wine, when there is any left in the fridge, when making this for an adult audience. it really gives the salad a completely different taste. damned good too. but for the general audience where kids might be around, or there are those that prefer not to ingest alcohol ( i know there are at least a couple of folks like that out there!), cold water does the trick.
combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. whisk the dressing ingredients together, pour over the salad, and toss thoroughly. chill and serve, and wait for the compliments.

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

gus has some interesting points

on freedom of speech over at his blog. it's a sore spot with me when those that are supposed to be watching out for us, passing laws that DO NOT counter our constitutional rights, try some underhanded crap all in the name of "protecting" us. toss them all. bring in some fresh blood, people that have actually lived amongst the populace in the last five years, not in the rarified circles of the ruling elite.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

hey allan, you make housecalls?

bummer, i popped my crown off the back molar.
guess i'll have to find a new dentist here in my new hometown in the morning.

this sucks

edit: 4/5.... ahh, relief. a little scraping, a little buffing, a little glue, and all's right with the world.