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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

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Sunday, December 31, 2006

current events

i will let those with better skills discuss the latest happenings in the submarine world. a couple of youngsters died on a fast and black, and joel, the communal blog, and the sub report are doing a good job covering the story. suffice to say, submarining is a dangerous occupation. there were times when it felt like we were working in an office, sure, but even during the most mundane task, cruising at sea on a human made machine was anything but a sure safe bet. sailors, rest your oar.

now, what i would like to do is direct your attention to one of my favorite iraqi blogs. want to know what the educated iraqis are thinking about stretching madman hussien's neck? check out the buzz just before the administration of justice. and then, celebrating justice. the blog iraq the model is a daily read at the geezer's corner. it has been a vicarious thrill to follow the adventures of the brothers that blog as the americans started dropping things that go bang. the progress of iraq's transition has been documented and commented on at great length there. one of the things that got me fired up to read this collective effort was the following line from one of the very first posts there: "You can not imagine how happy I was when I created this blog and published my first article, after years of being imprisoned inside the walls that Saddam's regime built around Iraq."

i watched the furor and hoopla, the running scared of the left's pundits and talking heads on the tube as the whole final hours unwound. instant chaos, instant civil war, instant reprisals.

hmmm. wonder when they will happen? i'm not looking at causing them to happen by jinxing things. i'm just wondering where the instant firestorm predicted by so many is?

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Friday, December 29, 2006

there are some really warped folks out there

and i love it. i am not going to tell you what the search criteria was, but look at what i found. well, ok. video + legos + mumble mumble
Lego's Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

reloading 9mm with 115 gr. Oregon Trails LRN and 231 powder

As always, click for other image sizes

go no go


so i got my Browning High-Power back from the factory a little while ago, cured of its ills. since i had a stack of boxes of ammo i bought for another gun, i used them up instead of rolling my own. now that the store boughts are history, it's time to go back to the round my gun loves best.

since building my reloading bench, i've stacked a ton of reloading stuff on it. here's the pile of bullets awaiting their turn in the press
boxes of lead

hmm. let's see. looks like about 2000 rounds of 115 grain 9,mm, 2000 200 grain 45 ACP, about 1500 rounds of various weights for the 45 COLT, a 1000 rounds of 170 grain flat points for my 30-30, 2000 125 grain remington golden sabers for the 357, 3000 148 grain hollowback wadcutters for the 38 special, 250 70 grain Speer TNT hollowpoints in .243, and an odd collection of various 9mm i experimented with.
actually, i'm guessing at quantities, because a lot of the boxes have been opened and used. that's just the "published amount". to see different views of the bullet storage, visit my flickr set Things that go BANG

before getting into the actual reloading, let us talk about one of the main components: BRASS. All reloading manuals have tons of info about what to look for in your brass. splits, bulges, blown primers. so i'm not. but there are things they don't tell you.....
a word about cases. i am a range rat. i'm also a scrounger. i am glad there are only a few of us that reload, because the number of folks that just leave their brass behind keep me in reloading components. BUT you get what you pay for. in this case, there are some things to be aware of when scrounging cases that you haven't actually shot yourself. first, if it's an aluminum or steel case, leave it there. neither one is designed to be reloaded and are single use casings. if the case is creased on the sides, leave it there. you don't need the potential for damage or injury from using a weakened case. if it's military, leave it there. usually you can tell a military round because even if there is something stamped into the head, it probably won't be the caliber. why not use military casings? the primers are crimped in place, and to remove the primer and swage out the crimp is a pain in the ass, and the gear needed is just another expense for a sometime used piece of equipment. there are usually so many ammo casings left behind by others that dropping the military stuff isn't painful at all. why do you care if the primer is crimped in? you can damage your decapper, and possibly damage your primer assembly repriming. a visual, if you please. i took one military case, decapped it, and attempted to prime the shell to demonstrate the typical outcome of using military brass that hasn't had the pocket reswaged. here's what usually happens when you do that:
military case
see the primer? note that it is cocked, and is far from laying flush in the pocket. think you can shoot this? think it will even feed? here's another view
crimp problems
one last casing thing to talk about. i never pick up Sellier & Bellot cases
not because the cases are bad. quite the contrary. this is great ammo, and it's usually pretty reasonable. but in 9mm, the case head shape just doesn't work in my press. they are tapered or something. whatever it is, they don't run in my standard 9mm shellplate. love the ammo. my browning has never failed once using S&B ammo. hate the cases. my RCBS ammo-master progressive press goes funky when i feed them. for all the case issues, i have a quick and easy check. i always look at the case head and sides before putting in the shell plate. it's a lot faster than it sounds. any that don't measure up, or have other problems like the ones i've discussed end up in the garbage. and i check every single case before putting it in my press. every time. without fail. it's my hands holding the gun those things are going into. or worse, it's my wife's hands, or those of my kids, or even friends that go shooting with me. so yes, take the time to be careful. it really doesn't take any time at all to be safe.

ready
here's the press, set up for reloading 9mm ammo. casings, bullets, and powder scale at the ready, it looks like it's time to LOAD!

so for this ammo, i am using
4.2 grains
4.1 to 4.2 grain of Winchester 231 powder and Winchester small pistol primers.

I'm also using Oregon Trails lasercast 115 grain hardcast lead round nose bullets.
all of the prep work takes time, so that first thrown bullet is a reward.
first round


when reloading, most sizing dies will straighten out a lot of the case mouth deformations one will find with scrounged ammo. just don't use dinged cases. bad juju. here's an example of a flattened case that presents no problems reloading. this is a very mild deformation, and most presses can handle much much worse. it's in station 1 the lowest of the cases in the image
bent case


a little patience, and before you know it
first 100
you've loaded 100 rounds. that's all the primers my primer tube will hold. and this took about 20 minutes from start to finish. excluding all the prep time, of course. from here on, it will take around 25 minutes per 100, simply because the primer tube needs feeding.

when building ammo, the first thing i do is measure the first 3 rounds for powder weight. then i check about every 20 rounds or so. the second thing i do is check for overall length, in this case 1.10 inches
1.10 inches OAL
and whether or not if fits in the go-no-go gage or not. the 9mm luger round seats on the case mouth, so crimp and length are important, and a go no go gage is the way to check them easily and quickly.
gauging round
see the round's head in the center of the top of the gage? this is a well constructed round. taper is sat, no bulges, and the overall length is within SAMMI specs.
after throwing 100 rounds, i check all the rounds by standing them up in a metal tray. this will tell me if there are any problems with seating the primers deep enough. important in an auto, even more so if loading revolver rounds. a shallow primer could cause the weapon to malfunction, or even worse.
primer check
. do i do this for every round? short answer: YES.

next, i box my ammo, or put it into ziplock bags.
boxed


check out this closeup.
headstamp
go look at the large or original size. note there are many brands of casings. purists would have you separate out the cases by manufacturer, and have distinct loads for each provider. as my dad used to say BUSHWA. maybe, just maybe, if you spend a zillion dollars on a super whammodyne buck rogers space gun capable of inserting lead suppositories in gnat alimentary canal exits at 50 yards, ok. but after reloading for a year, and religiously sorting out the various brands, i did a little experiment. remember, i'm using a gun that on a good day will hit minute of barn at 50 yards. i built some sorted rounds, and then some mixed brass. guess what? couldn't tell the difference. then a couple of months later one of the gun mags had an article by a reloading guru, and he had come to the same conclusion. so don't sweat the unimportant stuff, spend your time building safe, consistent ammo.

so what did a couple of hours in the shop get me? how about 700 rounds of custom built, kick ass, consistent ammo to blaze away with. that's what it got me.
700 rounds


and since i'm such a geek, i always try to keep track of the ammo i've built. this is a new book, started in 2001 when the other was filled. you know what they say... it ain't done until the paperwork is finished!
record keeping


and while reloading i listened to the following cds


music to reload by
DJ Shadow: Preemtive Strike
Mike Oldield: Tubular Bells 2
Bad Company: 10 from 6
Pink Floyd Meddle

edit: went back out and reloaded some more. 200 rounds of 9mm, and 300 rounds of 45 acp with 200 grain oregon trails semi-wadcutters. once you get going, it's hard to stop.
tunes to reload by redux:
Tom Waits: Closing Time
Andreas Vollenweider: White Wind
Leo Kottke: Standing in My Shoes
and finally
Putumayo Presents Acoustic Brazil

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

popping in for a wine post

do you like big wines? full bodied and robust? do you love pairing wines with food?

how about pairing a wine with an 18 pound top loin roast (the one they cut NY steaks from) cooked to a rare/medium rare, smothered with a butter-garlic-herb drizzle just before slicing?

if you do, i have a great wine for you.


we had a Trinchero Main Strett Vineyard 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon with Christmas dinner, and it was so good i don't have the skills to describe it. i'm not a wino snob, but i do know what is tasty. and man, is this wine tasty.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

i'm just guessing

but i bet there are a lot of folks in the midwest and others travelling with a connection in Denver wishing that there was a little more global warming.

ya think?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

one case does not an arguement make

i know that. but one of the much used and well worn statements regarding illegal aliens is that they are not taking jobs away from Americans, and are doing the jobs nobody here wants to do.

a clip:
The line of applicants hoping to fill jobs vacated by undocumented workers taken away by immigration agents at the Swift & Co. meat-processing plant earlier this week was out the door Thursday.
bolding is mine.

read the whole article here.

wonder what the pro-illegal pundits will say about that?

a Christmas seastory from my shipmate mad max

here's a taste:

One of the best Christmas dinners i ever ate was 600 feet underwater, somewhere very cold . . .It was in the Pacific, I can't be specific - the mission was too classified:

On Christmas Eve, Jim sat in the crew's mess, waiting for the mess attendants, called cranks, to bring the evening's meal of pea soup, knackwurst, boiled potatoes and cranberry sauce when Santa popped up through the battery well hatch in the deck next to hm. Jim glared at the corpseman, Doc, across the table.

Rising from the hatch, Santa's voice was like a chainsaw, as he shouted "Merry Christmas you ******* *************!!!"

Santa was quite the sight! At six feet three inches, and two hundred sixtyfive pounds, he was dressed in filthy, oil stained red and white velour, and sported a ten year old K-mart beard that couldn't quite conceal his own red greasy stubble, nor the fact that he was really Tex, the torpedoman.

"Ho Ho Ho! I got some stuff for you *************" Santa bellowed as he threw packages across the crew's mess.

go read the whole post here

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

a cool foodie blog

check out morning coffee and afternoon tea. scroll around and look at the recipes.
i'm going to have to try the german chocolate caramel bars. just looking at the picture made my teeth hurt. maybe this weekend!

santabug


santabug
Originally uploaded by bothenook.
looks like Santa is visiting Alabama early this year.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

this guy is a moron

go check out this video linked over at myron's.
watch it, and come back. post the stupidest thing you ever saw a shipmate do.
was it as stupid as that idiot?
discuss

Saturday, December 16, 2006

evolution of a slob

there is an ad campaign that has been rattling around by Dove soap. it is parodied at college humor.
after watching the video, click on the link under it to see the actual ad.

funny stuff.

thanks a bunch to the pup that sent me the link.
dude, you need to start blogging.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

another damned internet quiz

gee, who'da guessed?

You scored as Engineer. Military Engineer. Your job is usually overlooked, but without you nothing gets done. While you sometimes annoyed at this, and you know the only time people come to you is when there's something wrong. You understand that you are the heart and soul of any organization with honesty and nice work ethic to boot.

"I need more Duct Tape!!!"

Engineer


100%

Support Gunner


81%

Officer


75%

Special Ops


56%

Medic


38%

Combat Infantry


38%

Artillery/Armor


31%

Civilian


0%

Which soldier type are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

tip o' the tam to Gus

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

now THIS is a tsunami



this is from one of my favorite geek sites Astronomy Picture of the Day. what are you looking at? from the web site:
The rampaging tsunami took out some active filaments on the Sun, although many re-established themselves later. The solar tsunami spread at nearly one million kilometers per hour, and circled the entire Sun in a matter of minutes.

if you want to read the text and follow the links after today, use the archive function for 13 december 2006.

Monday, December 11, 2006

more cookies: chocolate snowflakes and thumbprint

yummies

my wife is a damned good baker as well. her favorite cookies are chocolate snowflakes, thumbprint cookies, and russian teacakes/mexican wedding cookies. the last cookie may be coming out of the kitchen a little closer to Christmas.

so here's the age old pair of recipes Di gleaned from some checkout counter impulse buy Betty Crocker cookie magazine 30+ years ago. these cookies have withheld the test of time and are now beyond a holiday treat. they are now TRADITION! (can't you just hear Zero Mostel singing that?)

Thumbprints
ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup butter flavored shortening and 1/4 cup buttter
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg separated
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (we use walnuts but toasted pecans or toasted hazelnuts would definitely be in order)
  • jelly, jam, or chocolate kisses


HOW
preheat oven to 350 degF. mix shortening, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla thoroughly. Sift flour and salt together and stir into the wet ingredients. roll dough into balls (about 1 tbs per ball). wisk egg white lightly. dip dough balls into egg white, then roll around in the chopped nuts to completely coat. place about 1" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet (or on parchment paper on the cookie sheet....helps on cleanup!). press thumb gently in center of each. bake around 9 to 10 minutes or until set. remove from cookie sheet and place on cooling rack. spoon on your favorite jam/jelly or plop a kiss into the depression, while the cookie is still hot from the oven.
let cool.....pig out.

chocolate snowflakes, or chocolate crinkles:
ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 squares unsweetened chocolate (4 oz), melted (Di uses the microwave, works good, and works fast. play around until you know how long to nuke the chocolate)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup powdered (or confectioners) sugar


HOW
mix oil, chocolate, and granulated sugar. blend in one egg at a time until well mixed. add vanilla. sift flour, salt and baking powder together, then mix into the liquid ingredients. wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate for several hours, or overnight.
preheat oven to 350 degF. Drop teaspoonfulls of dough into powdered sugar and roll to coat. shape into balls and place about 2 inches apart on a greased (or on parchment paper) cookie sheet. bake 10 to 12 minutes or until almost no imprint remains when touched lightly in the center. remove from sheets and place on racks to cool. try not eating all of the cookies before making up the cookie baskets for friends. or failing that, make another batch while you are still full, so that some may survive to make it out of the house.

there you have it. our cookie recipes are all blogged now. whew.

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

easy lentil soup

just so you don't think i've forgotten how to cook during cookie baking season (yeah, around here, it's a season kind of like football or hockey season, only without the missing teeth). so what does a mad baker have for dinner while fixing enough cookies up to give Mrs. Fields a run for her money?

lentil soup is one of the easiest and tastiest soups in most cook's menu box. here's one that i like, and it only takes about 5 minutes of prep time. total cook time is about an hour, or until the lentils are soft enough for your liking.

ingredients
  • 1 quart chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 yellow or white onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and coarsely chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 4 carrots, grated through the small holes on a box grater, or cheat!! using a small food processor and olive oil
  • 2 cups lentil beans
  • 1 tbs Old Bay seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot


HOW:
heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a 2 quart or larger pot. using medium high heat, watch until the oil shimmers. toss in the onions and celery, sweat for a couple of minutes. then add the grated carrots and garlic, and toss in a couple of healthy pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper. continue to sweat the veggies for a couple of minutes.
sweating

add the Old Bay seasoning, and then pour in the chicken stock, and bring to a boil. turn down the heat to low, and add the lentils. cover and stir occasionally until the lentils are cooked enough for you. I usually cook them for 45 to 60 minutes.

enjoy. (a couple of healthy dashes of pepper sauce makes the soup even better. wait until you plate up to add though, because everyone has different tolerances and taste)
lentil soupa



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

Friday, December 08, 2006

springerle cookie recipe #2

as i discussed in the Recipe #1 post, there are several ways i make springerle. there are many recipes out there, and these two are the ones i use. both were modified from the original to some extent, so i'll post them as originals, but we both really know i just stole them from somewhere else and claimed them as my own.

click on pictures for a selection of sizes.

Springerle recipe #2
This recipe makes a lighter, more cake-like cookie than #1 does. i'm kind of torn between the two. these are a bigger pain in the keister to make, but they do have the advantage of being popular with the springerle crowd. that's ok. that just means that there are more for me of the ones i really like better anyway. hmmm, kind of like my mom used to say that she really liked the chicken wings, so it was ok that we ate all the good parts. what do you think?

Variations
ok, i know this is unusual starting with the variations BEFORE even posting, but this is important. there are a lot of people out there that just don't like anise. i know, i know, it just doesn't seem natural, but it's true. so, for those folks, here are a few variations that i've used in the basic recipe that turned out pretty damned good. first of all, everywhere it says anise, disregard.

variation #1: der Vanillezucker: in the powdered sugar, place 1/2 vanilla bean, and process until the bean is mulched throughout the sugar, and evenly distributed. makes for a killer cookie. this is actually a classic variation on the springerle theme. this is also great in the #1 recipe, with the bean blended into the granulated sugar.

variation #2: citrus: use the zest of 1 lemon, very finely chopped and distributed on the parchment paper. add 2 or 3 tbs of lemon extract (buy the good stuff. you'll thank me. one of my favorite lemon extracts comes from these guys

now, back to the main event

the basis of my recipes came from a stack of papers printed out over the years, and from the back of a 3x5 card jotted down over coffee with an old lady. i went out and found a close approximation, and that was recipe #1. then i got a little bold, and decided to get FANCY, and use finer ingredients. i didn't say better, just finer, trying to get a smoother more tender cookie. i found the recipe at House on the Hill, the source of many of my cookie molds, presses, and rollers.
here's my take on their recipe in word and picture.

Ingredients
  • 2 tbs whole milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • six (6) large eggs, room temperature. this is important. if the eggs aren't at room temp when you go to cream ingredients together, the butter will clump up, and it will be almost impossible to get everything to a nice light yellow stage.
  • 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted, and about 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra for use on the dough to keep the roller impressions from clogging up
  • 1/2 tsp salt (i like to use 3/4 tsp kosher salt)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (that's one whole stick), softend but NOT melted. if you forget to take it out of the fridge, stick it on a saucer, and nuke it for about 15 seconds, then leave on the counter until needed. it should be ok by then
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp oil of anise. if you can't get oil of anise, use about 1 to 1 1/4 TBS of anise extract. the extract works, but oil of anise is way "mo betta". my oil of anise comes from King Arthur Flour. but i should caution that anise oil is hard to come by after about mid august, so write yourself a note to order by the end of July for next year's batch.
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract, and the zest of one lemon, finely chopped.
  • 2 pound box of cake flour, and a couple extra cups of all purpose flour for rolling and kneading the dough as you go along
  • 3 tbs anise seeds, crushed or buzzed in a spice mill. you don't want these to be powdered, just broken up a little. i use a mortar and pestle
  • parchment paper
  • 2 or 3 days of free time


HOW:

take the baking powder, and mix it into the milk. set it aside.

beat the eggs in a mixer for at least 10 minutes, until it is a light lemon color. yes, beat for at least 10 minutes.
beat eggs

drop the butter in while the mixer is running, dabs at a time, until all the butter is incorporated. then slowly add the powdered sugar. if you forget to turn the mixer down to it's lowest speed, you WILL look like a ghost. cream these ingredients together for at least another 5 minutes or so. then add the zest, anise oil, baking powder/milk, salt, and mix. note that if you don't finely chop the zest, it will all end up in clumps on the mixer blade, and not in the dough. been there.
next, add the box of cake flour, slowly. make sure you occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl. you do not want to overmix at this stage. once the flour is incorporated and looks smooth, stop mixing. continuing mixing will just make the cookies tougher.
mixed dough


scrape the contents out onto a piece of plastic wrap, cover, and put into the fridge for at least 2 hours. overnight will not hurt this dough at this time. now, why do i refridgerate my dough? the biggest answer is because it makes the dough easier to roll.
wrap to cool


when the dough is cooled, remove it from the wrap, and cut into fourths. that doesn't leave a huge piece of dough, but it does give enough to roll into a nice sheet, without taking over every available square inch of counter space you might have. flour the board very well, and lightly knead the dough, adding flour as you go until the dough is just a little sticky. you don't want to add a zillion cups of additional flour here, just get the dough so it can be worked.
flour the board very well, and roll out the dough to about 1/4 to 3/8 inches thick. pick the dough up, flour under it on the board, and then set it down again. if you don't do this, when you get your cookies cut, you will mess up the impressions bigtime because the dough will be sticking to the board like glue.
Karins roller
Karins impressions



cookie press
press impressions



ready to press
ready to cut


liberally sprinkle the top of the dough with powdered sugar. liberally means use a LOT. you do not want the dough to get stuck on the springerle roller, or the mold.

roll out the impression, or press in the mold, then cut using a knife, pizza cutter, or pastry board scraper. if you make these more than once, you will discover that all three are appropriate. as a matter of fact, if you could sprout an extra hand and arm.... anyway.
take a piece of parchment paper the size of your cookie sheet, and sprinkle crushed anise seed on it.
remove the cut cookies with a board scraper or a spatula (my preferred method)and set them on the parchement.
ready to dry


if you impress shapes, you will be spending some time with a nice small sharp knife, cutting them out.
cutting stars


set them somewhere to dry overnight. do not put them where dogs, racoons, or other pesky critters can get to them. seriously. why let them dry overnight? if you were to toss these guys right into the oven, the impressions would simply slump and disappear. by letting them dry overnight, the cookie sets up, and the impressions will not bake out. just a little cookie lore to pass along.
springerle drying


the next day, heat your oven to 250 to 290 degrees F. cook one cookie to see how long it will take. if the cookies poof too much, turn down the heat.
ready to bake

cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the temperature. pull them when the bottoms get just a light golden brown.
let them cool, and then bag and freeze until Christmas!
ready to bag


ok, here's another variation, but saved it for the end. if you've read this far, maybe you really will try these cookies.
do you like anise? you know, is tar black licorice a favorite of yours? if so...
here is a variation that i only make one batch of, because there aren't that many freaks like me out there:
instead of 1/2 tsp, use a full tablespoon of anise oil, or 3 tablespoons of the extract. put in 1 tablespoon of lemon extract, and don't bother with the anise seeds on the parchment while drying.
seriously good. seriously not for the faint of heart, or weak of spirit. or if you don't like anise.

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

the passing of one of my heros

bummer. Jane Kirkpatrick, a no holds barred UN ambassador passed away. She was appointed by Regan, and Bolton reminded me a lot of her. she didn't suffer fools gladly, and she sure wasn't afraid to speak her mind.
poor Bill the Cat. he must be devastated.

Eric has a submariner Christmas photo contest going

check it out. photoshopped pix with a submarine christmas theme, contest ends 14 December. here's the link.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

hey science geeks, a planetary alignment coming



check out the information on the 7 dececmeber space weather site.
3 planets within 1 degree in the next couple of days. too cool. and i'm already up and at work when it happens.

now here's a cool little series of submarine photos

see the new submarine christmas gizmo eric made up? it's going to be at the top of the page until christmas. enjoy

good job Eric. the original can be found at the Sub Report Blog

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

a new blog, er, serial novel, er

there's a new blog out there that is looking to be more serialized novel than random ranting. it's going to be exploring a submariner's journey through the navy. it's almost anon. but i know who it is, and it isn't me.
so far, A Western Reach has made it to boot camp. go visit, bookmark, and keep checking back in. i'm wondering what kind of memories he's going to stir in readers, and what the responses and comments on the blog will be.

edit: links don't work if you forget the http thingie. fixed. and sorry for the oops.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I've been tagged. another 3 things meme

OK, so I've been "tagged" by my bud Myron. I’ll play, because it looks kind of fun, but won’t tag anyone else. If you want to play, let me know so I can read all your deep and dark thoughts.

Three things that scare me:
*Living longer than my children
*92 year old ex fighter pilots driving down the freeway
*Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, and the chance that Hillary could actually become the President of the United States. That has me in a fevered sweat.

Three people who make me laugh:
*My wife (stole this from Myron)
*My grandkids having fun (stole this one too)
*My coworkers, because they are on a mission to harass each other, reminiscent of my days in submarines. Yeah, I know that’s more than one, but I’m just considering them as a group.


Three things I love:
*My wife (catching a pattern here?)
*Learning new things. Every day is a gift, and if I don’t learn something new each day, I feel like I’m squandering that gift.
*Of course my kids and grandkids
Don’t think I can improve on Myron’s take on any of these here.

Three things I hate:
*Kraft macaroni and cheese. Sorry, I just can’t stomach the stuff
*Religious fanatics - especially the ones who want to kill you if you disagree with their religion. I’ll go one further than Myron: especially the ones that feel it’s not only their duty, but their right to make you conform to their beliefs. That goes for any religion, including those in this country that want me to be a cookie cutter version of them. Of course, most of their leaders are dirtbags, but that’s beside the point, right?
*Hiccupping and sneezing at the same time. Too damned many things going on at once.

Three things I don't understand:
*How any rational, intelligent human being can be so swayed by the celebrity culture that folks like Jane Fonda or Rosie O’Donnell are taken seriously on any subject..
*How the instinctive survival trait is totally missing in so many people, replaced by some misbegotten need to throw themselves on the fire of (fill in the blank). This is an exercise left to the reader’s imagination. I’m not looking for hate mail here.
*Why the floor seems so much further down when I’m bending over to pick something up. It certainly wasn’t that far down when I was younger.

Three things on my desk (at home):
*A very expensive HP scanner that hasn’t worked in a year
*At least a ¼ inch of dust around the base of the monitor
*A stack of paperwork that I was supposed to have filed eons ago. Instead, the pile just seems to have taken on a life of its own, and looks to have entered into an adolescent growth phase.

Three things I'm doing right now:
*Trying to floss out that piece of venison jerky stuck between by upper molars.
*Waiting for a contractor to show up.
*Writing the rough draft of my “Summary of Accomplishments” for this year’s evals. I probably won’t include working on this meme in any of the blocks.

Three things I want to do before I die:
*Finally burp the entire Gettysburg address in one take.
*Be involved in a project that will save lives. Actually, that’s not too far from happening now.
*Fill in my world map of travels, but this time, do it with my wife.

Three things I can do:
*Cook
*Confuse post doc students.
*Fart with only a glass of water and a slice of bread

Three things I can't do:
*Leave mechanical goodies alone. I am always getting in trouble for taking stuff apart just to see how it was put together.
*Exercise impulse control.
*Suffer fools gladly (is that the same as tolerate assholes?)(I’m with Myron here too)

Three things you should listen to:
*That little voice that says it might not be such a good idea to try to take that big curve at 120 mph while holding your beer. At least put the beer down long enough to make it through.
*The morning birds at sunrise.
*The sound of laughing children.

Three things you should never listen to: (I can’t improve on any of these)
*Political rhetoric from anyone
*Fanatics (unless you agree with them)
*Advice you didn't seek

Three things I'd like to learn:
*How to prune my orange tree without butchering it or losing a year’s production. Don’t ask.
*I’d like to learn how to write “The Great American Novel”. I can barely string words together well enough to get my point across without sounding like a pompous ass.
*Why I do these memes.

Three favorite foods:
*Raw
*Cooked
*In between

Three beverages I drink regularly:
*Coffee
*Water
*Coffee

Three TV shows/Books I watched/read as a kid:
*Johnny Tremain by Ester Forbes. I was in the 3rd or 4th grade, and it was the first book I read with more than 100 pages in it. Man, was that an exciting book at that age.
*Sky King
*Gunsmoke

EDIT: ok, looks like Nereus has volunteered. tag, you're it.
whew, almost got turned into an airdale. read comments to understand.
EDIT #2: looks like that notoriously Nice Mike has also taken up the challenge. there are some pretty cool people out there in bloggerland, and mike is one of them. hell, anyone that's a foodie, and has saved enough change to get over $700.00 worth of goodies off the tradein, including a sweet looking steel mandoline (that's a cooking gizmo for you non-foddie types) is ok in my book!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Springerle cookie recipes

i've been pestered for a while to post my recipe for springerle cookies. so here they are. yes, they. i have two different recipes that i've been making for years, and they are absolutely killer. recipe #2 can be found here

first of all, if you can't stand your kitchen looking like this, don't bother.

secondly, i posted technique pictures with recipe #2, and they all apply with this recipe as well.

NOTE: i use a stand mixer. that really helps, since there are some LONG times in both of these recipes where you have to mix/blend ingredients.

#1:
  • 4 eggs, room temperature. i've found that using cold eggs takes a lot of extra time to get to come to the right consistency when mixing.
  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • big pinch of salt, around 1/2 tsp of kosher, 1/4 tsp of table salt. i like kosher salt because it doesn't have that iodine taste
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp anise oil, or 1 tbs of anise extract
  • 2 tbs anise seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp lemon oil extract. some recipes call this optional, i call it essential

beat the eggs for about 5 minutes, or until a light yellow.
add the sugar, let blend for a minute or two, and then add the butter in dabs until all is added. add the flavoring oils, and cream together for 10 to 15 minutes. yeah, that's what i said. if you don't, the cookies won't have the right consistency.
sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together, and then add slowly to the blender bowl to combine the ingredients. don't mix too long for this step. you really just want to get the dry mixed in thoroughly, and that's all.
take the dough out, knead it on a floured board just enough to make sure everything is incorporated, then wrap the dough ball in a piece of plastic wrap and toss into the fridge for a while. two hours is about the minimum. overnight is cool
when the dough is cold, lay out several sheets of parchment paper, and sprinkle the crushed anise seed evenly on the paper.
roll the dough out to about 3/8" or so, sprinkle the top of the dough with powdered suger so that it doesn't stick in the impressions, and then roll again with a springerle roller. cut the cookies out along the impression edges, place them on the parchment paper, and allow to dry overnight in a safe place. if you don't have a springerle roller, just just the cookies to about 1 1/2 to 2 inch squares. impressed cookies are pretty, but it's the anise thing we're really looking for, and besides, you can't taste the impressions!
safe place is defined as somewhere the raccoons can't get into. long story, springerle-less christmas.
the next day, preheat the oven to around 300 degF. bake until just a light golden on the bottoms, around 15 minutes or so.
remove and cool on racks. bag, freeze until christmas, and enjoy.

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

Friday, December 01, 2006

this is a surreal evening

i've actually cranked back three bottle of wine over dinner with my folks. i am hammered. seriously hammered. when was the last time you got toasted with your dad? this is so cool.

what else do you do?

ok, so i've talked about waiterrant (one of my very favorite blogs) for almost 2 years. it's one of the most interesting, eurdite, compassionate, and hilarious blogs out there. this guy is funny as hell. his latest post has me thinking. his responses to folks asking him "what else do you do?" cracks me up. just two examples, and then i'll get to the point
  • Porn Theater Custodian
  • Furry Wrangler


so the point is, what jobs have you really had that are kind of outside the box? ok, so if you were a submariner, that pretty much trumps any and all crazy jobs, but besides that?

i'll start with one of my least favorite jobs ever.
as a young nuclear trained submariner, my primary job was as an engineering laboratory technician. that's a fancy name for a radiation control tech, and a water chemist. as an ELT, i had to provide coverage for jobs that were either potentially or known radioactive.
one of the sanitary tanks (shit tanks) accepted drains from the nucleonics lab, which were considered potentially contaminated becasue it was where i did chemistry analyses on the primary plant water. so.... any time they had to make a tank entry, guess who had to go along? ever have to chop through 18 inches of matted hair and other "debris"? gag. i was glad as hell i wasn't in A-gang. they had all the shit tanks as their responsibiltiy, and i only had to dive San #3 because my sink drained into it.
so, what's yours?

ps. really, you need to visit waiter rant and read this post. and don't forget to go back and read the rest of his blog. you'll understand why i almost always start my blog reading there first.