Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I'm Running Away to Join the Carnival(s)

As I mentioned over the weekend, my recipe for grilled chicken with a cordon bleu-like twist was in the latest Carnival of the Recipes. I saw the biggest one-day spike in reader traffic in as long as I can remember. Now, I am not as driven by stats as I used to be (a phase all Bloggers go through), but a little positive reinforcement is always a good feeling. So you can bet your assets I've already submitted my shrimp taco recipe. Heck, if I ever post ANYTHING that's remotely related to a Blog Carnival, I'm submitting it!

Well, today I got even more of the same kind of attention. Last weeks post on Britain's proposed knife ban, and the connection to gun control, made the latest Carnival of Cordite (if only with a cursory Reynoldsesque "heh"). This is not normally a topic I Blog on, but not because it doesn't concern me. In fact, I'm quite a staunch supporter or the Second Amendment. But prior to last week, I didn't feel I had anything useful to add to the conversation.

One of my readers, and a dear friend, suggests that my views will changew as The Lad gets older. She may be right, but as it stands now, I highly doubt that. In fact, if you read the comments to this old post, you'll see that it has been fatherhood that has changed me from being a supporter of the Second Amendment to considering actively exercizing my rights under it. As I told my friend Vulture Six on the phone this weekend, if it became necessary, I would end the miserable existence of anyone who tried to harm my child.

I suppose my friend's concern has to do with the possibility of a gun in the house itself being the danger posed to The Lad. To that, my response is to remind my readers about my main annoyance at the article about knives in Britain -- Personal Responsibilty.

For the record, I grew up in a household which contained firearms, and yet I am here today having never shot anyone or been shot by anyone as a result of a tragic accident. In fact, the only life I ever ended with any of those firearms was that of a harmful four-legged varmint damaging farm property. The secret? I was taught at an early age not to go anywhere near those guns without my father's supervision, and when I was old enough to handle them, I was taught HOW -- never point a gun at anything you don't intend to shoot, always treat every gun as if it is loaded, keep your finger off of the trigger until you are ready to fire, store guns and ammo separately... if you have guns, you'd damned well BETTER know what I'm talking about.

To be fair, I do intend to practice even more stringent safeguards in my household than my father did, including keeping the guns locked when not in use. I most certainly don't want my son to be put at risk as a result of MY negligence.

But by the same token, I am painfully aware of the numerous and growing thrats outside the home, and refuse to limit myself to the options available to me to protect him from them.

More from the Grill

despite yesterday's foibles and Sunday's work, and the fact that it rained Saturday, Friday night I did get a chance to use the grill, and Saturday the smoker. On saturday I tried my hand at making jerky. It worked out ok, plenty smoky and the right consistency, but the flavor was weak. I think I need to work on my brine recipe.

Friday, The Feared Redhead wanted a break from red meat, so I suprised her with a seafood dish. I whipped up some grilled shrimp, then served it on tacos. I wanted to try something different with the salsa for it -- standard hot sauce or salsa didn't seem to really do it justice, so I created a Cocktail Salsa -- a combination of salsa and cocktail sauce. It worked surprisingly well. Enjoy.

Grilled Tequila Lime Shrimp Tacos

For the shrimp you will need:
1 lb. raw 26-30 count shrimp, peeled & de-veined
1 packet taco seasoning mix
1 cup tequila
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro

For the tacos you will need:
Grilled Tequila Lime Shrimp
6-8 medium corn tortillas
Shredded cabbage (most grocery stores carry bags of pre-shredded cabbage in the salad section, often labeled as Cole Slaw Cabbage. This does quite nicely.)
Grated cheese (Mild or medium cheddar, jack, pepper jack, Colby jack, or your personal favorite)
Cocktail Salsa (see below)
Cooking spray or vegetable oil

For the cocktail Salsa you will need:
¼ cup ketchup
1 tbsp. Mexican hot sauce (Tapatio and Cholula are both popular choices.)
2 tbsp. chunky salsa
2 tbsp. horseradish

In a glass mixing bowl, combine the shrimp, taco seasoning, tequila, lime juice, and cilantro, mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, salsa, hot sauce, and horseradish. Refrigerate.

Preheat the grill to medium/medium high heat. Lightly spray both sides of the tortillas with cooking spray or lightly rub on a small amount of vegetable oil. Place the tortillas on the grill, cooking for only 30 seconds to a minute on each side. They can then be wrapped in foil and kept warm on the grill away from direct heat.

Remove the shrimp from their marinade and grill. You can probably use skewers, though I use a grill basket. Cooking time will vary, usually around 5 minutes a side, though you definitely want to watch shrimp closely, and if you are tossing them in a grill basket it can take a bit longer. Once the shrimp are a solid pinkish color and no longer translucent, remove them from the grill.

Place 4-5 shrimp in each tortilla. Spoon on some of the cocktail salsa, and top each tortilla with cabbage and cheese. Makes 6-8 tacos.

The Last Thing I Wanted to do on Memorial Day

I'm a big believer in NOT making Memorial Day just another excuse to shop. But I'm also married to a redhead and have a keen survival instinct.

TFR's sister and her husband live up in Portland. Our youngest nephew just graduated from a crib to a toddler bed, and The Lad is read to move from a Basinet to a crib, so it was decided that we would spend Sunday driving up north to pick up their crib. We decided to meet about half way (or thereabouts). The SIL came down with a case of stomache flu on Sunday, so the rendezvous was postponed until Monday. It was decided, furthermore, that we should meet a bit farther north than half way, in Woodburn. This suggestion immediately caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand up, because Woodburn is home to... an outlet mall (cue ominous soundtrack).

Yup, sure enough, that mall's parking lot was picked as an ideal meeting spot, being easy to find and all. I made it clear that I didn't want to spend all day there, especially since the day before had been spent on chores and housecleaning. It was agreed, a little time with the SIL, an hour or so of looking around, and then home. We arrived promptly at 11 AM.

We got home at 8 PM.

So for all those who got to spend Memorial Day, Y'Know, Memorializing, or even just resting, you have my undying envy.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Back at the Griddle Again

This week's Carnival of the Recipes (#41 to be precise) is up, and I'm back in it again, with the chicken grill dish I posted a couple of days ago. I have plenty of good company, go drool.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Seduced by summer

The place of business where The Feared Redhead works is just a short mile from the place where I work, so on pleasant days, I walk the distance instead of her picking me up here. With record-setting temperatures, yesterday was just such a day. The route passes the Eugene Country Club and an empty field before reaching Oakway. Yesterday, as I walked the route, my olfactory senses were aroused by a scent that was at first hauntigly familiar, but which, when recognized, ravished my memory with a flood of old sensations.

The blackberries are in bloom.

Most Oregonians will readily admit to being absolute blackberry fiends. They grow as weeds here, and the hybrid Marionberry (not to be confused with Marion Barry)was developed here in Oregon, up in, of course, Marion County. I am no different. I am addicted to them.

Growing up in southern Oregon, I loved to pick blackberries as much as I loved eating them. In part, that is because eating blackberries is a significant protion of picking them. For ever berry that hits the bucket, usually two manage to reach the bucket's escape velocity, only to be inexorably pulled in by the gravitational forces of your mouth.

And eating blackberries, especially right off of the plant, is, if you'll pardon the expression, quite a sensual experience, almost erotic. The buxom fullness of the berries, the flood of juices as you devour them, the alternating tartness and sweetness of berries of varying degrees of ripeness. Eating blackberries is not a casual experience. And the atmosphere of picking them adds to this -- the silence of a remote country berry patch, disturbed only by the droning hum of bugs and the occasional call of a bird, the soaking heat of the sun, the sudden chills as you step into the shade and the wind picks up. Picking blackberries involves all the senses, you find yourself sleepy and aroused and hungry and sated all at the same time.

Now if I can just remember where I put my bucket.

Guns Don’t Kill People, Sous Chefs Kill People

Not being a pure libertarian, I tend to shy away from using the hyperbolic phrase Nanny State. But considering this news story from the BBC, sent to me by a coworker, I’m making a prediction as to who will be the next Prime Minister of Great Britain:

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Doctors' kitchen knives ban call

A&E doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing.

A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase - and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.

They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon.

The research is published in the British Medical Journal.

The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.

They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen.

None of the chefs felt such knives were essential, since the point of a short blade was just as useful when a sharp end was needed.

The researchers said a short pointed knife may cause a substantial superficial wound if used in an assault - but is unlikely to penetrate to inner organs.

In contrast, a pointed long blade pierces the body like "cutting into a ripe melon".

The use of knives is particularly worrying amongst adolescents, say the researchers, reporting that 24% of 16-year-olds have been shown to carry weapons, primarily knives.
The study found links between easy access to domestic knives and violent assault are long established.

French laws in the 17th century decreed that the tips of table and street knives be ground smooth. [

A century later, forks and blunt-ended table knives were introduced in the UK in an effort to reduce injuries during arguments in public eating houses.

The researchers say legislation to ban the sale of long pointed knives would be a key step in the fight against violent crime.

"The Home Office is looking for ways to reduce knife crime.

"We suggest that banning the sale of long pointed knives is a sensible and practical measure that would have this effect."

Government response

Home Office spokesperson said there were already extensive restrictions in place to control the sale and possession of knives.

"The law already prohibits the possession of offensive weapons in a public place, and the possession of knives in public without good reason or lawful authority, with the exception of a folding pocket knife with a blade not exceeding three inches.

"Offensive weapons are defined as any weapon designed or adapted to cause injury, or intended by the person possessing them to do so.

"An individual has to demonstrate that he had good reason to possess a knife, for example for fishing, other sporting purposes or as part of his profession (e.g. a chef) in a public place.

"The manufacture, sale and importation of 17 bladed, pointed and other offensive weapons have been banned, in addition to flick knives and gravity knives."

A spokesperson for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: "ACPO supports any move to reduce the number of knife related incidents, however, it is important to consider the practicalities of enforcing such changes."

Wait a minute. Let me get this straight. In the United Kingdom, which has some of the most stringent gun control laws on the planet, violent crime is on the increase??? But… but… I thought guns were the cause of violence!!!

No, I’m afraid you were mistaken. Guns don’t make people more violent, they make violent people more efficient. In fact, that’s the object of any weapon. I believe the root of the Greek words for tool and weapon are the same, because that’s what a weapon is – a tool for violence, a “Force Multiplier”, if you will. Humanity has been committing acts of violence as far back as we can remember. As soon as we realized that we could use tools to make our work easier, I suspect it was about twenty minutes before one of our ancestors realized, "Hey, this makes folks easier to KILL, too!" Ever since, we've just kept getting better at it (or worse, depending on your point of view). And I'm sure that even without handy death gadgets, we'll still find other means. Ban our guns, people will use knives. Ban the knives, it'll be clubs. Pretty soon, we'll live in foam-padded societies equipped only with KFC sporks, and we'll still be using those to gouge out eyes. Violent nature begets weapons, not the other way around.

The second idea put forth here to which I strenuously object is this:

The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.

They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen.

None of the chefs felt such knives were essential, since the point of a short blade was just as useful when a sharp end was needed.

I've heard the same comment put forth by those who argue that certain types of guns should be banned because "You don't need automatic weapons to hunt deer".

First of all, people who sday that have never seen some of the people I grew up with. Their shooting was so bad, the only chance in hell they had of bagging game was to lay down volumes of fire vaguely reminiscent of Omaha Red.

But removing my tongue from my cheek, this is where I do agree with true libertarians. "Because you don't need it" is not a valid reason to ban something, nor should it even be part of the equation with regards to adults. There's a saying that expresses the fear of many with regards to this attitude by the state, and it goes something like "What is not required will be outlawed". Frightening prospect. But it seems to be where our society is heading: Abrogating free will and personal responsibility; entrusting the State with the power and duty to make our decisions for us. Protect us from ourselves, we seem to be saying.

Well, some of us. But not me. I'd rather the government spend more of its time protecting me from itself.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

These Hands

You all know my buddy Vulture 6?

Well, he's gone and started an internet business, and I've got to admit, it's amusing. I promised him I'd plug it, so here goes:

How many times have you jokingly said, "These hands are registered as Deadly Weapons"?

Well, now they can be. For a small fee, DeadlyHands.net will register them, and even send you a certificate and a wallet card.

It's gotta be good for a laugh, if not a free beer on occasion.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Speaking of Warbirds

I had to drive home at lunch so that TFR could have the car this afternoon. As we headed back to my work, we stopped at a light on westbound Centennial, when all of a sudden, TFR pointed up at the sky. She didn't know what she was looking at, but she knew it was out of the ordinary. As a guy and a history geek, I knew right away. It was a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, one of the planes that won WWII, flying around over Eugene.

I think this grin's about to pull a face muscle.

Proof I Have the World's Weirdest Imagination

Yesterday as I was singing to The Lad, I found myself imagining what it would be like to hear Marlene Dietrich, in her smokiest, suktriest, Cabaret-style voice, singing "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly".

Stop me before I think again!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

More Recommended Reading

Twice in one day I'm recommending that you read excellent things written by people who don't exactly see eye to eye with me.

If you've read my Blog for a while, you'll recall that I on occasion take respectful exception to things written by Smallholder over at Naked Villainy, but that at the end of the day, I respect him highly.

Well, he's gone and done it. He's written something I agree with.

Dammit, man, you're going to take all the fun out of Blogging. But I do thank you for the moral support.

Now, I must confess there are a few details on which I disagree with you. I do believe that abortion is the taking of a human life. I do believe that there are some basic doctrines of the faith which are the truth, and must be accepted as such on informed faith in order to be classified as an orthodox believer. But I also agree that there is plenty on which we can agree to disagree -- In all things charity, isn't that how it goes? And I also agree with your assessment that theism and atheism require similar measures of faith.

To Air(Power) Is Human

Thanks for the Memory to The Maximum Leader at Naked Villainy. And yes, the quiz questions amused me too.

What military aircraft are you?

EA-6B Prowler

You are an EA-6B. You are sinister, preferring not to get into confrontations, but extract revenge through mind games and technological interference. You also love to make noise and couldn't care less about pollution.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.

Grill Thrill

It's that time of year -- the sun is out (most of thetime), the air is fresh and fragrant, and there's warmth to be felt. Therefore, it's time for men (and women) to exercize their inalienable right to burn meat in their back yard, under the open sky as God intended.

A while back I managed to find a charcoal smoker at a garage sale for five bucks. This weekend, I cleaned it up, and tried my hand for the first time at "real" barbecue. as a novice, I started with a small piece of meat, a 1-pound beef brisket, dry rubbed with a rub I made from scratch. It came out nicely, so I will try some pork BBQ next. However, I still consider myself a learner, so for now I'll be reading barbecue recipes, not writing them.

However, I am still very confident in my outdoor grilling skills, as evidenced by my steelhead recipe. So today I decided to share with you all the very first recipe I ever invented for cooking on a grill. While it's not barbecue, the recipe does benefit if you incorporate one element of bbq -- wood smoke. However, I'd recommend a wood like apple or oak or alder, not mesquite, though hickory would probably do fine.

So, without further ado:

Inside Out Grilled Chicken Sorta Blue

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 slices smoked Swiss cheese
8 slices smoked ham
1 cup white wine (Pinot Gris, Riesling, or Gew├╝rztraminer)
2 sprig thyme
1 tbsp honey

Marinade the chicken breasts overnight in the white wine and one of the thyme sprigs. Place the ham slices, the honey, and the other thyme sprig in a sealed aluminum foil packet. While grilling the chicken, place the foil packet to the side of the grill where the heat is lower. Salt and pepper the chicken and grill over medium heat. About 5-10 minutes before the chicken is done, remove the ham from the foil packet and place 2 slices on top of each chicken breast. Cover each breast with a slice of Swiss cheese; continue to grill until the cheese melts. Remove the chicken breasts and plate. Drizzle with honey mustard sauce, garnish with more thyme.

Honey Mustard Sauce:
½ cup yellow mustard
¼ cup honey
1 tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp paprika
Dash cayenne
Dash chili powder
Dash powdered ginger

Place the mustard in a small bowl and pour in the honey. Mix in all spices, refrigerate.

Who Left Whom?

Many thanks to my good friend DAR for sending me the following link. Quite often it's easy to merely link to a well-written article by one of the many conservative pundits who are out there and say, "This is good, read it." But in this case, I'm linking to a liberal pundit, and saying the same thing. In Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle, columnist Keith Thompson wrote an excellent piece on why he's leaving the Left:

Leaving the left
I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity

Not suprisingly, many of the reasons this man, who still considers himself a Liberal, is "Leaving the Left", are the very same reason that those of us who are unabashedly Conservative are so disdainful of it:

My estrangement hasn't happened overnight. Out of the corner of my eye I watched what was coming for more than three decades, yet refused to truly see. Now it's all too obvious. Leading voices in America's "peace" movement are actually cheering against self-determination for a long-suffering Third World country because they hate George W. Bush more than they love freedom.

But when I read comments like this:

I look back on that experience as the beginning of my departure from a left already well on its way to losing its bearings.

I have to respond with a comment that Thompson seems to already know in his heart, and implies throughout his artcile. He didn't leave the Left. The Left left him. Indeed, you can read it between the lines when he says,

I smile when friends tell me I've "moved right." I laugh out loud at what now passes for progressive on the main lines of the cultural left.

All of which is why I have come to believe, and gladly join with others who have discovered for themselves, that the single most important thing a genuinely liberal person can do now is walk away from the house the left has built. The renewal of any tradition that deserves the name "progressive" becomes more likely with each step in a better direction.

Welcome, Keith. Now your journey to the Dark Side is complete.

Monday, May 23, 2005

I May Be a Bozo....

....But I Think I scooped the Big Boys This Time.

A while back, I Blogged on an experimental Mileage Tax here in Oregon.

Yesterday, Garfield Ridge, Partisan Pundit, and The Jawa Report (Who refers to my home state as "The Bozo State". This from the Blog I consider my inspiration for starting to Blog. Nice) all get around to Blogging on it. They're considerably more negative towards it than I was.

As I stated in my comments earlier here and today over at Rusty's, I acknowledge the privacy issues raised by the use of a GPS and computer chip. But I take issue with people who will in one breath argue against this idea because it's Big Brother being too intrusive, and then turn around and argue against it because it "doesn't provide enough incentive to buy fuel efficient cars". That's arguing against it because it's too intrusive but not intrusive enough. Pick one reason or the other, but if anyone tries to pick both, they're being intellectually inconsistent.

Let's set aside for a moment any discussion of the use of the GPS chips and privacy issues, and think for just a moment about roads and how to fund their construction and maintenance. While I prefer small government, there are some essential services that must be provided -- at local and state levels as well as federally. How should we do that? Don't tell me that gasoline taxes are the best answer. As the articles discussing this point out, as it stands, you pay more fore the same amount of road use if your car is less fuel efficient. And while fuel efficiency is a great idea, taxes should be designed to pay for services, not regulate behavior.

The other problem here in Oregon is that we have one of the highest average MPG's per capita of any state in the Union, and it's rising. That means that the state is forecasting DECREASES in the amount of gas tax revenues expected in the next decade.

So if the Gas tax doesn't work, and this mileage tax doesn't (for whatever reason), I'm willing to entertain suggestions as to alternatives.

Belated Blogiversary

I can't believe I missed the 1-year anniversary of one of the best things to come out of Blogging: Strengthen the Good.

It's been a year since they set out to give us all a chance to use our Blogs as a force for good, a chance to help, and the means to look past ourselves. To celebrate their anniversary, they are once again highlighting the microcharity that started it all, Susan Tom and the Tom Family Educational Trust.

Go over and wish them a happy blogiversary the best way possible: By learning more about StG, and about the Toms, and by giving if you can.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Mangled Latin

As you can tell from the title of my Blog, I enjoy plays on words. In particular, I enjoy playing with Latin phrases. Below are a few I've invented, as well as one I've heard before (the last one). If you have any others, I'd love to hear them:

Memento Moron -- "Remember, thou art stupid."
Ex Posteriori -- An argument "pulled out of my ass."
Ad Hominid -- Logical fallacy that states that since the argument is made by a human, and all humans are fallible, the argument must be false.
Cogito Ergo Dim Sum -- "I think therefore I eat Chinese Food."
Carpe Per Diem -- "Seize the expense check."

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Meanwhile, In This Corner of the Country

Thanks for the Memory to Traderbob, crossposted over at Blogfather Rusty's:

The investigation into election *ahem* "irregularities" up in Washington is getting interesting. From the Seattle Times:

King County's absentee-ballot supervisor has testified that she collaborated with her boss when she filled out a report that falsely showed all ballots were accounted for in the November election.

Interesting stuff. Given what's going on just over the river, you can understand why conservative Oregonians might look askance at politicians meddling with OUR election process.

The Bachelor (Well, Not Really!)

TFR is heading off to a women's retreat with the ladies of our church tomorrow, and she's taking The Lad with her. They're only spending one night, but she'll be gone all tomorrow evening and most of Saturday. I'm still trying to decide how to make the most of my "Bachelor" time. This will be the longest I've been apart from The Lad since he came home from the NICE, and the longest apart from TFR since SHE came home from the hospital after having him. It's gonna be weird, but a nice break too. Sleep is definitely in the cards, but other than that....


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Purple Mountains Majesty

Twenty-five years ago today. It's amazing to thing that I'm now old enough to reflect on my memories of a historic event that happened that long ago. Of course, here in the Pacific Northwest, history is divided into Before Mt. St. Helens and After Mt. St. Helens.

I was living on the fringes of the region at the time, an 11-year-old about to finish 6th grade in the small town of Filer, Idaho. I had a passing interest in the new leading up to the eruption, since I had family in Portland, and the summer camp facilities owned by the denomination in which my father pastored (Camp Lackamas, at that time owned by the Northwest District of the Missionary Church) lay between PDX and the volcano. And of course, everyone was watching to see if they could get Harry Truman down from his cabin at Spirit Lake before the eruption. they didn't. He refused to budge, and he died on his own terms.

When Mt. St. Helens erupted, it pulverized a cubic mile of mountain in seconds. The day after the mountain blew, the sky turned blood red in Filer from all the ash in the air, but we received almost none of it on the ground. Months later, I would visit Lackamas and find a good half inch of the stuff on everything. We swept it up and I kept a small amount in a film jar, but lost that years ago, For a long time, you could buy small vials of ash, and even glass ornaments blown from ash that had been collected and reheated, in just about any souvenir shop in the region.

The mountain became an intrinsic part of our culture -- especially in Washington, but throughout the region in general. In school, they showed us the film "Keeper of the Fire", which was about Mt. St. Helens, and which recounted a local Native American myth about the mountain. In the myth, there were two great warriors of a local tribe who both fell in love with the same woman -- the beautiful maiden who tended the tribe's fire. They both wanted her for their own, and so they fought for her. Their fight was so violent, and lasted so long, that it angered the gods, who put a curse on all three. They turned all three into mountains, with one of the warriors on either side of the maiden, where both could see her but neither could reach her. The two warriors are Mt. Adams in Washington and Mt. Hood in Oregon, and the maiden is Mt. St. Helens -- the Keeper of the Fire.

The biggest way in which Mt. St. Helens changed the region, though, is probably the way it changed how we look at our mountains. We have always loved the Cascades, and they are one of the features, along with the Pacific Ocean, that most define our region and our climate. They are beautiful mountains, with plenty of snow-capped peaks and vast foothills, and while there are higher ranged and more rugged ranges in North America, few if any are greener or more varied.

But before St. Helens, few people in this region, apart from geologists, paid much attention to their geological history. Now, we have been made startlingly aware of just how these mountains we love were formed. And we view them all a little differently. At least three peaks, including one within 100 miles of where I sit typing this, have the potential for erupting in my lifetime. Oregon's only National Park, Crater Lake, was formed by the eruption of a Cascade volcano. Now, when we look at the Three Sisters or Hood or Rainier, we are reminded just how dangerous and powerful these mountains are.

And I, for one, think it makes them all the more beautiful.

Monday, May 16, 2005

A Win for Wine

Thanks for the Memory to Ace of Spades.

Court Lets Wine Lovers to Buy Out-Of-State

WASHINGTON May 16, 2005 — Wine lovers may buy directly from out-of-state vineyards, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, striking down laws banning a practice that has flourished because of the Internet and growing popularity of winery tours.

This is a Supreme Court case I've been watching for some time, and the ruling is a big win for Oregon's wine industry. While Oregon does not produce as much wine as California or a couple of other states, our wineries produce some very high quality wines. Unfortunately, many states require that out of state wineries sell only to in-state wine distributors. Because many of our wineries are small operations, they often don't have the volume or market clout to even appear on a distributor's radar.

The arguments in this case were the states' constitutional right to regulate alchohol production vs. the rights of Interstate Commerce. Commerce won, and so did many of the small Oregon wineries.

And so did you, if you like good, reasonably priced wines.

Cross-Posted at Head West, Turn Right.


Despite his usual impeccible taste and class, The Maximum Leader misses the boat by expressing plans to order wine that exlude Oregon wineries.

May I humbly suggest that our esteemed erzats emperor, and all other regarded readers consider the following excellent Oregon Wineries:

Girardet Winery -- Their Barrel Select and Petit Cuvee are my two favorite Pinot Noirs.

Abacella Vineyards -- They pride themselves on their Spanish-style Tempranillo, but I prefer their excellent Cabernet Franc.

King Estate Winery -- Producing good wine at a reasonable price, they also have one of the prettiest wineries in the state (and that's saying something)!

Yes, Sir, That's My Baby

In response to all those who requested more pictures of The Lad:

Unfortunately, I have effectively rendered us sans digital imaging technology. However, the last time we had a couple of rolls developed, we ordered CD's too. So, without further ado,

The World's Most Beautiful Baby:

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Start 'Em Young

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Little Big Dog takes an early interest in The Lad (This photo was... umm... Digitally Cropped).

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As you can see, we neglect LBD so....

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A Happy Family

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The Lad and his paternal grandmother

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...and his maternal grandfather

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And with his Godfather, Lurch (The Mini Me Pose).

Friday, May 13, 2005


Yesterday was absolutely gorgeous -- blue skies, somewhere in the 70's. The day before had been quite rainy and cool. that's the way Spring is in Oregon -- it comes in fits and starts, with an unexpected mixture of dry and wet, warm and cool. Don't like the weather? Give it fifteen minutes, it'll change. TFR tells me that Minnesota Springs are not like that -- she says that in the Twin Cities, if you blink, you miss the transition from bitter winter to blazing summer.

Spring days like yesterday tend to draw Oregonians out even more than nice summer days -- the more recent the cold, the more appreciated the warmth. I couldn't get out too much yesterday afternoon because the Lad had had a fussy morning, and was finally sleeping, but I stepped into the back yard for a few minutes, passing Little Big Dog over the fence to play with the neighbor dogs (a hyper Papillon and a cowardly Golden Retriever, whom LBD has completely cowed).

All of this is just to introduce what happened next, which was one of the most interesting things I've ever witnessed. As I stood at the fence talking to our neighbor, I heard a faint, high-pitched soundcoming from what seemed to be above. I looked up to see a large bird soaring towards me. At first, I thouight it was a turkey vulture -- a very common carrion bird in these parts. But I noticed a couple of differences. This bird was much bigger, the wings didn't have the right shape, or the split finger-like feathers, and the head was white, not the hairless red of a buzzard.

It was a bald eagle.

Bald eagles aren't that rare in this part of the country, I've seen them numerous times around lakes and rivers up in the Cascades, and even on one occasion circling over the river by a county park just outside of town, but from the angle he was approaching, he had to have flown right over downtown Springfield.

And that wasn't even the oddest thing about the sight. As he flew, his course was not as straight and graceful as normal. As my eyes focused, I noticed that another bird was wheeling and circling the eagle, swooping in and trying to strike. It was obvious that the smaller bird was the aggressor, and the eagle was trying to get away as quickly as he could. And most interesting of all, the other bird was also a raptor. It was one of the Osprey that are so numerous here in the Northwest. Both the bald eagle and the osprey are fishing birds, and I live less than a mile from the Willamette River.

Now, I've seen smaller birds chase of bigger birds before. In fact, a few days ago, standing at the window at work, I watched another osprey (I work even closer to the Willamette than I live) being driven off by a pair of corvids. From a distance I couldn't tell if they were ravens or crows. I've seen crows chase ravens. I've seen sparrows chase both. Hummingbirds are absolutely vicious when it comes to this behavior. But I'd never seen a raptor-on-raptor fight like this before.

Given that they're competitors for fish, and I believe osprey are territorial, I shouldn't be surprised. But I couldn't help but be fascinated by what I saw.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Note to Pat Buchanan: Lay Off the Cough Syrup

Thanks for the Memory to my good buddy Vulture 6 over at Vulture's Row.

Apparently, Pat Buchanan questions the validity of defeating Nazi Germany in World War II:

On the radio and Internet, Buchanan framed his positions as amplification of remarks made over the weekend by President George W. Bush that the pact ending the war brought on a Stalinist domination that was "one of the greatest wrongs of history."

Yes, Stalinism WAS one of the greatest wrongs of history. Right up there with the equally heinous wrong that was the Holocaust. The fact that it took us until the 80's to defeat one doesn't mean we shouldn't have fought the other.

But Buchanan's comments on the Don Imus radio show and in an essay posted on the Web site of his organization, The American Cause, went much further. He suggested that because Germans voted Hitler in, they did not need to be liberated, and that Britain and France drew Germany into the wider conflict.

Um... Earth to Pat. Sprechen zie "Lebensraum"? Remember the Sudetenland? Poland? The camps?

He did not mention Jews or the Holocaust - the most outrageous omission for Yaffa Eliach, a Holocaust expert and survivor.

Not just for Yaffa, actually. Trivializing 6 million deaths tends to get under the skin of ANYONE with even a modicum of decency.

Former Mayor Ed Koch offered this blunt rebuttal: "I believe that no decent human being should ever sit down at the same table with Pat Buchanan and I am shocked that otherwise responsible, respectable citizens share platforms with him on Sunday shows."

Absolutely right, for once, Ed. I am amazed and ashamed that Buchanan was once considered a contender for the presidential candidacy of my party. What a maroon.

Update: I'm as hesitant as anyone to play the Race card, but in the case of Buchanan, I think that Ace is right.

Update II: Thanks for the Memory to The Maximum Leader. He links to an excellent essay by the esteemed Victor David Hansen which, while not directed specifically at Buchanan, provides ample ammunition for rebuttal of his view.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Anybody But Anybody But Bush

Thanks for the Memory to Vultures Row.

Interesting news today. Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Convention, has endorsed a candidate for U.S. Senate in Vermont. Interestingly enough, the candidate in question isn't a Democrat. He's an independent.

Not so big a deal, you might argue, since Vermont's exiting Indie Senator, Jim Jeffords, leaned to the Democratic side, and the endorsement is strategic, since anyone who can defeat a Republican is good news for the Dems. But here's the catch -- Bernard Sanders leans even farther leftwards than Jeffords. In fact, he leans even farther than most Democrats would like to admit they lean. Sanders is a Socialist.

My good friend Vulture six maintains that this support by Dean indicates either Socialist tendencies on the part of Dean, or a calculated willingness to overlook Sanders' socialism just to stick it to the Republicans.

I'd be willing to consider the possibility of both options being true. The most influential Democratic President of the Twentieth Century, F.D.R., was definitely a socialist, and most liberal domestic policies smack of at least small-s socialism. The difference between the Dems and Sanders is more a matter of degrees than of kind, and when compared to Dean, even the degree is hard to distinguish.

But I've also noticed a willingness among the left, especially among the more radical Democrats and the leadership (less so among rank-and-file Democrats who tend to be idealists), to get in bed with the most odious elements of the left if that's what it takes to defeat the Republicans. This is reflected in the "Anybody but Bush" tone during the elections, as well as in expressions by notable leftists like Michael Moore, expressing hope that insurgents in Iraq would succeed in inflicting more casualties just so Bush's election chances would be damaged.

Again, while I know many who lean farther to the left than I who truly believe they are fighting for good, and while politicians in general tend to Macchiavellianism, the level to which the DNC has taken it in recent years is truly frightening.

Recommended Reading

Blogfather Rusty has posted an excellent piece on comparisons between Communism and Naziism.

Actually, his piece is a review of an equally well-written article in the Washington Times, so he had a head start, but his additional comments are well worth the read.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Forewarned is Forearmed

Thanks for the Memory to Lars Larson.

Sex offenders may be forced to drive vehicles with pink license plates

According to the article, Ohio is considering a law that would require that registered sex offenders be issued special plates for their cars. The plates would be all pink (why that color I don't know, other than high visibility), and the rationale is that children would know which vehicles to stay away from.

I don't know what Ohio's paws regarding sex offenders already are, so this might be a "band-aid" law, but if it's being proposed in conjunction with other effective laws, I'm all for it. Anything to help protect our children from real monsters.

Slainte Mhath! (Indeed!)

The word Whisky comes from the Gaelic uisge beatha, which is translated "Water of Life". The traditional Gaelic toast is Slainte (in Ireland, Slainte Mhath in Scotland), which is translated "health".


Friday, May 06, 2005

Defining Irony

An avowed atheist referring to "religious intolerance", and then declaring that "Religion is for chumps."

Believe whom?

Forcing My Hand

I was trying to avoid commenting on the whole brouhaha regarding First Lady Laura Bush and her jokes the other night, only because it seems like everyone is getting WAY too worked up over what should be a non-issue. Unfortunately, it's the level 0f worked-uppedness that has forced my hand. That and the fact that it ties in to several other issues that have worked their way under my skin under the guise of "Church-State Issues".

For the record, I think that the level of offense some have taken with the First Lady's comments is a bit Sullivanesque. Lighten up -- the event has ALWAYS been irreverent, and the Horse joke specifically has been misinterpreted.

On the other hand, I also think that those defending Mrs. Bush have also taken this one not just over the top, but through the wire and well into No Man's Land. I'm getting a bit tired of the chracterization of anyone with a modicum of morals as being a repressed Victorian prude. There's nothing wrong with a little proper decorum and respect for one anothers sensibilities.

Now, to be sure, there are some morally conservative people, most of whom are Christian,s who are overreacting. But to paint all Christians, or even all social conseervatives, with the same brush is a bit much. Today Ace posted an excellent bit on the current friction between religious and non-religious conservatives. I think he's dead on. In addition, there's a good and lively discussion going on in the comments. I especially appreciated this comment by Ace's reader Jason:

Well, this just depends on who you consider the "Religious Right" to be. If you're referring to any conservative who has the audacity to be religious, then it's simply not true. If you're referring to specific religious conservatives, it's true, but trivial. You can point to members of any political group that demand 100% compliance.

Also today I noted that the esteemed Smallholder addresses persecution. Twice. While I agree whole-heartedly that the characterization of ANY opposition to Christianity as persecution trivializes real persecution, I'd beg to make two points:
1. I have heard the argument before that Christians here keep whining about persecution. A good friend of mine made the same observation on his Blog. However, with the exception of a few loudmouths who get more attention than they deserve and whom one can almost dismiss out of hand any time they speak, I quite honestly don't hear the "P" word being used as much as Smallholder seems to indicate.

2. Having said that, let me address Smallholder's comment, It's not Christians who are persecuted. We are doing the persecution (though not all of us agree with it).

Again, any reasoned agreement or disagreement with this statement on my part would require that I extract from Smallholder a definition of Persecution. Included in that definition there would necessarily be either an acceptance or rejection of degrees of persecution. In one Blog Entry, he states that real persecution would be execution for ones faith. In another, limiting tax benefits is persecution. This leads me to believe that he must at least recognize varying degrees of persecution as still being persecution.

Furthermore, I must take exception with his comment, So when my coreligionists whine about the persecution of not having Principal-led prayer in the public schools, I become a bit indignant. I become indignant when Pat Roberston complains that extending civil rights to gays "persecutes" believers.

I do hope he really doesn't think that that is the extent of the objections many Christians have with our treatment in modern society. But I will reserve further reaction until he has clarified.

A few days ago, my good friend and reader Mary left a comment asking me if I feel any moral obligation to provide for public education. I shall address her here, because itis, as you will see, germain to the crux of my post. I do geel a moral obligation to help others -- to give to the poor, to help provide those in need with that which will help them. But as I've stated before, when it comes to translating my personal morals into political policy, there's a fine line to be walked. As Ace argues in his article, it is unfair to expect people of religious convictions to not apply those convictions to the way they vote. Because, as his reader hobgoblin points out, ALL law is morality. Anything we require or prohibit by law is because the majority have determined that that which is required is morally necessary and because that which is prohibited is morally wrong. The question is, whose morals? Which morals? Which morals supercede other morals -- freedom vs. Justice, for instance? In the long run, it seems to me that the best laws are those which enforce the moral concept of not doing wrong to others. Once we get into the realm of forcing people to do good to one another, the law becomes a bit too intrusive, and open to debate. And that is why I can see the point of those who think that taxes for public education is not as morally or legally necessary as, say, fire or police or defense or tort laws.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

It Just Dawned on Me

Back in my high school days, when my father was pastoring a church in Southern Oregon, my mother used to sing trios in church along with a musically inclined couple who also led our youth group. One of the songs they sang quite often was called Bless the Lord. The theme running through the song was that the beauty surrounding the songwriter moved them to praise God. The opening line of the song was "Morning Sun, light of creation..."

Ever since TFR went back to work, I've been working an earlier shift, 6 AM - 3 PM. Today, as I was standing next to my desk, looking out the window, I was reminded of that song. There's something special about the quality of lighting at sunrise, especially somewhere as beautiful as here in Oregon. The sun is still low enough that it doesn't flood the entire landscape, so taller things like trees are lit more brightly, giving them greater contrast -- they almost glow. This time of year, the deciduous trees have new leaves which are a light, bright green, magnifying the contrast when compared to the darker green of the conifers. I remember a visitor who mentioned to me once that what struck them most about Oregon was not just how much green there was, but how many different hues and shades of green there were.

I could get used to being a morning person.

Monday, May 02, 2005

May's Days

Quite a busy week as far as the minor holiday calendar goes.

Growing up I used to love to celebrate May Day - not Soviet style, with parades and MiG flyovers, but by leaving flowers on the doorsteps of neighbors. As a child in Idaho, I had a neighbor in her 80's, Mrs. Brown, on whose doorstep I'd leave paper baskets full of dandelions. I'd ring her doorbell and then run, so that the flowers would be "anonymous".

Thursday is, of course, Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates a Mexican victory over French troops at the Battle of Puebla. And as a run-up to it, Saturday was Camerone Day, the day the French Foreign Legion commemorates a tactical defeat that established their reputstion as brave, fierce fighters.

And next Sunday is Mother's Day. NOt so minor for me this year. The Lad (*ahem*) has already purchased his Mommy a present -- a set of earrings and a pendant in his birthstone.

Not much esle to say right now, maybe more on these topics after I wake up.