Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Blizzard of 2009 Edition!

The kids generously allowed us to sleep in until 8:02 AM. Thanks kids!

The 3-way simultaneous paper-shredding orgasm lasted about 30 minutes including the time spend getting a contractor-sized trash bag and a relatively sharp knife (well, sharper than most of my relatives).

I ducked out most of the way thru the frenzy and started a pound of ground sausage browning in my big cast iron skillet. I love biscuits & gravy and thought I'd share my passion with my family.

I hold great respect for tradition, however the brood would have to settle for refrigerator biscuits. At least I sprang for genuine name brand, not generic store brand, so I'm not a TOTAL heretic! (I'm also not a Southerner, so y'all can just say whatever bad things you want about me, as long as you finish with 'Bless his heart'. I know the code!)

Anyway...sausage browned, a measure of drippings reserved, remainder drained, biscuits into the oven. Drippings back into the skillet with the sausage, an equal measure of flour and a little heat to cook the roux. Rotate the biscuit pans in the oven. Stir the roux and cook a bit longer. Add milk and start stirring. A few grinds of black pepper. Stir. Pull the biscuits out of the oven, depan, back to the gravy and stir. Suddenly the gravy began to thicken. A little more stirring, a yell to the kids to get the table ready and it's breakfast time.

The kids have had creamed beef on toast (SOS) so this isn't a totally new experience for them but they're used to sausage in links and patties - ground sausage is new. We ended up with biscuits left over. Just about the time I was thinking about grabbing a biscuit and mopping up the gravy left in the skillet the wife reached over and did it. Sometimes we think so much alike it's SCARY!

She thinks this would make a fine new Christmas tradition. I don't's a lot of work to accomplish after being kept awake by the fat guy in the red suit rustling around out in the living room in the wee hours...

The kids are happily entertaining themselves with the new loot. The wife is cocooned in front of the TV waiting for football, and I'm trying to get up the motivation to dig out vehicles and sidewalks.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Isn't It Amazing...

...what you find when you are not looking for it?

Case in point: Some time back another blogger and I had a short email exchange regarding author Dean Ing and one of his books, Single Combat.

Suddenly, I had a desire to re-read the book, but I couldn't find my copy. Considering the number of moves we've made in 20 years, it's not surprising that it got misplaced. My worst fears were that it had been sold at a garage/tag/rummage sale for next to nothing, that it was in one of the boxes still in storage at the folks' place or that it was in one of the boxes that got tossed when the basement flooded a few years ago.

A quick search online showed that while not made of unobtanium, it did tend to be a bit tough to find, so my urge to read it was offset by immediate unavailability.

Fast forward to today. I'm moving stuff in the storage shed to put the window AC unit away for the winter. I open up a storage tote to see what's in it, and lo and behold, here are several books I thought I'd lost, including my copy of Single Combat.

Now I gotta put more effort into finishing the "Honey Do" list so I can sit down and enjoy a good book!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ammo Day

Today is National Ammo Day.

Pick up 100 rounds of your favorite boomstick fodder - it's just after 4 PM here so there's still a few hours to get in on the fun!

Details here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Out of STEAM

Just returned from a weekend in Marshalltown IA at ABATE of Iowa's annual training gathering, Iowa STEAM (Seminar To Educate And Motivate).

It was a great weekend of learning and socializing, biker style.

After a 3 hour drive home, a quick trip to the grocery store, and dealing with a dead router on the home network, now it's almost time to get ready to go to work.

At least I got a good night's sleep Saturday night...instead of enjoying mass quantities of adult beverages around the hotel pool. Sometimes it sucks to be a responsible adult.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Why is it that even though I objected, we still got a dog?

Why is it that she's supposed to be the kids' dog but I ended up feeding and caring for her the most?

Why is it that it's my job to take her to the vet now that her hips are shot and she's having bladder and bowel issues?

Why is it that I feel like crap having her put down even though I don't particularly like the damn dog?

Friday, August 21, 2009

BTW...using a Linux desktop blog editor called 'Drivel' now - it's a lot more convenient than the web interface.

Also noticed that I've almost tripled my output from last more post this month and I'll match last year's TOTAL!

I'll try to make it a worthwhile post, not just 'here it is, my 4th post this month'.
Kinda got derailed on reporting on Freedom Rally 25, and since no one actually reads this stuff I'm not sure it's worth continuing the story.

Attendance has been reported as just shy of 8100 - it sure seems like there were a lot more than that in the park, but since I never made it beyond the vendor area after Wednesday afternoon I can't say for sure.

The rain Friday night put a damper on activities, but they still lit the fireworks around 12:30 AM, making it the first fireworks display of July 4, 2009 in the Kossuth County area.All I can say is that it SOUNDED impressive...I'd given up and gone to bed by then.

Other than the leaking shock seal the ride was great - even got shot on Shooters Images as we were leaving for home Sunday morning.As much grief as I've given others for pulling trailers I'm beginning to think there's some merit to it. I probably carry too much crap as it is but I'm reaching the limit for strapping it on to the bike I think.

Guess this'll wrap up the Freedom Rally 25 up is Loess Hills Rally X, followed by Meeting of the Minds in Bloomington MN. There are some rides and events scheduled for the first weekend in October...experience tells me that may be optimistic for motorcycle events, but maybe Global Climate Change (TM) may have a good side after all.
Middle Child has decided to play viola this year instead of clarinet. I'm thinking of taking up the bagpipes in retaliation.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Freedom Rally 25 continued...

Tuesday I went to town for breakfast at Mickey D's and for wi-fi. The local cellular provider was going to have wi-fi available on the portable cell site they set up in the park but (AFAIK) never got it working during the rally. In any case, that was the extent of my email and web surfing for the rest of the week.

Tuesday was another busy day with flag details and newspaper stuffing. There are 3 big flags next to the Freedom Rally stage. This year Rambo and I got to put them up. I learned a couple of things: 1. Big flags in the air are much bigger on the ground, and 2. Big flags and wind do not go well together. The nylon rope used for halyards didn't help - it reminded me of the lariat ropes my Dad carried in his vet truck - they had such a tendency to twist that it was really tough to straighten out the halyards and we had to work together to keep things under control. I guess we messed up on the order though...we switched the POW/MIA flag and the Iowa state flag. At least we got Old Glory on the right flagpole! Regardless, it's still a great sight to see those flags flying free on a beautiful Iowa morning!

Next we got a group together and placed the flags on the Avenue of Flags on the main road into the park. 50 state flags, a POW/MIA flag and flags from 5 service branches. The poles are two piece steel pipe that slip together. We had so much help we were almost in each others' ways - one had to be careful to avoid a steel enema!

The awnings at the main gate went up next. The canopy frame was mostly assembled, so we hung the lights (even checked to make sure they worked too!) and started stretching the roof tarp. Of course, it didn't fit correctly and we had to take it off and reseat all of the poles in the sockets, but then it was an easy up and quickly staked down.

About that time the newspapers showed up. One of the local papers puts together a special edition for the Freedom Rally. It usually contains articles by state officers and park staff as well as ads from local businesses and organizations - the stores often run specials during Rally Week and groups like the Lions and KCs have breakfasts, etc. Anyway...each attendee is supposed to get a paper when he/she registers. Somewhere back in the past someone got the idea to put a folded trash bag in each newspaper to encourage people to pick up around their campsites...or to use as emergency wet weather gear. In fact, most folks call them "Rally raincoats".

Well...the trashbags have to get into the papers somehow. I've done this the last couple of years and it usually ends up being a pretty fun time, with folks chatting and getting to know each other. Like most everything else at the rally it's all volunteer labor, so everyone's there 'cause they want to be there. We set up on a couple of rows of folding tables, some people unroll the bags and fold them, others open the bundles of papers and insert the bags, still others carry, tie, and stack the finished bundles. It looks daunting when you see the stacks of bundles before we start, but goes quickly. The conversations and joking keep things moving, and soda, water, and sandwiches for lunch are provided.

One of the guys helping on newspapers had a Cushman golf cart he was using to get around the park and it wouldn't start, so I gave him a hand with it. Turned out the motor generator bracket was loose, and the battery wasn't charging. Got the M-G tightened up, and a little juice into the battery, but still no go. Back to basics time...check for spark - yes! Check for fuel (electric pump) - yes! Check for compression - yes, plus an additional confirmation of spark using me as the load - YES! Finally, I pulled the air cleaner to see if the choke and throttle were working, and lo and behold, the choke was stuck closed. Open the choke, hit the switch and it fires to life! Put it all together and Bulldog took off to ride around the camp a bit and build up the battery. Later he told me he lost the M-G belt again - one of the bolts on the bracket was broken off and allowed the M-G to shift enough to throw the belt. He was able to extract the broken bolt and replace it and all was well with the world.

That was about the extent of the day as best as I can recall. Pretty much just went back to camp and chilled with the neighbors and some cold beers. Still pretty quiet in the camp, and beautiful sleeping weather.

More to come...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Freedom Rally 25 is in the books!

The 25th Annual ABATE of Iowa Freedom Rally is all over except for the clean up and tear down. My part of it isn't over yet as I still need to retrieve the camping gear a friend hauled home for me.

This was my 5th Freedom Rally, and the best so far. This was the 3rd year in a row that I went early and helped around the park. I worked as hard or harder than I would have worked at home and had fun doing it!

I got there Sunday afternoon, set up camp, visited with friends camped at Smith Lake north of Algona, stopped for supplies on the way back to camp, then relaxed and went to sleep.

Monday started with campstove bacon and eggs. The cast iron skillet worked much better this year than the aluminum skillet last year, but the stove still sucks. Not fine enough flame control. I think it would work better with about a third less holes in the burner. I'm thinking of getting a Coleman gas stove for next year.

I spent Monday running a string trimmer. Went thru 2 spools of string, and several tanks of fuel. Managed to finish frying the top of my head, even though it was covered. Guess I sunburned thru the do-rag. The big rip in the top didn't help.

While I was weed-whacking some of the guys running chainsaws cut some firewood for me and dropped it at my camp. I didn't actually get around to lighting a fire until Friday night but it was great to have some firewood available. Thanks Duffy, Rambo, and whoever else helped!

A District 2 member (Jimmy) and the friend he brought along to drive him home after the rally (Tree) showed up Monday afternoon. They had a little cold McDonalds left over, which I think was the extent of supper for Monday night.

Some friends from District 3 (Wayne and Cathy) showed up a little later with news of a bike breakdown (Cathy's trike). After some discussion Tree and I took Jimmy's pickup and trailer to retrieve Cathy's trike, and Wayne rode his bike to retrieve the motorcycle trailer he left at the farm where they left Cathy's trike. (You might need to draw a map to follow the story...)

More to come...

Friday, June 26, 2009

How about smart HUMANS?

OK...I'm over the whole "Smart (noun)" thing.

Smart cars, smart guns, smart power meters, smart traffic get the picture.

Instead of pouring time and money into making inanimate objects smart, how about we work on upgrading the software between the ears of the population?

There's a commercial I hear frequently on the radio that boasts of a certain Three Letter Corporation's efforts at saving fuel and lost time by using technology to cut down on traffic jams. Of course, the example they site - some sort of Scandanavian system - seems more to concentrate on taxing people rather than improving traffic flow, but since most of the folks hearing the commercial know more about 'American Idol' than socialism it slides by.

Do we really need SKYNET? Haven't we learned from 4 "Terminator" movies that letting computers run our lives doesn't turn out well?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

So many projects...So little motivation!

So it's Memorial Day weekend.

Let me join the chorus of voices reminding you to remember those who paid the price for our nation, and for those paying it now. Hopefully they still have a country to come home to!

I'm enjoying the weekend but I'm feeling a bit guilty about not accomplishing much. I've got vehicle maintenance to do (too much like work), house maintenance (too much to do), a new rifle to sight in and shoot, and absolutely no motivation to do any of it.

I'm hard pressed to sit down and type this entry. Maybe I should shower, dress, and go take in a movie. Haven't had any cinematic therapy in a while...perhaps the air conditioning and overpriced popcorn will do something for me.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Yippee! 2009!

Well, it's 2009.

Hope y'all made the most of the additional time added to 2008 - that leap second sure seemed to pass quickly...of course, it hit here at about 5:59 PM on the evening of the 31st, and I was outside changing IFTA stickers on company trucks. I imagine the windchill had my thoughts elsewhere!

Celebrated my 43rd birthday with the purchase of a new Ruger Mk. III 22/45 pistol - only the 3rd new firearm I've purchased in my life - all the others have been off the used racks and shelves. I was going to go to the indoor range today and start breaking it in but Mother Nature decided to throw a wrench into the plans...unfortunately I have to consider going to the range 'non-essential travel', especially when work calls and requests my presence to put chains on the cargo tugs. As much as I know I'd enjoy an hour or two on the range, 4 hours of overtime means more right now.

I see I made 4 posts in 2008. One of my goals this year is to beat that mark.