Wednesday, June 29, 2005

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Going for a Wok

Last Saturday, I decided to throw down with a multi-course meal for The Feared Redhead. I went with an asian theme, making Pork Fried Rice, Chinese Chicken Salad, and Spicy Orange Beef. The rice turned out excellent, the other two were a bit disappointing. I used my Orange Chicken recipe and substituted beef, I think I sliced it too thin. Per her request, I'm keeping that recipe to Chjicken for now, she claims it's one of my best. So I thought I'd share it with you this week:

Spicy Orange Chicken

1 lb. cubed chicken
1 bundle green onions
1 can frozen orange juice concentrate (thawed)
1 cup soy sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup Sriracha style chili sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup minced celery
White pepper
1 tbsp red chili pepper flakes
Sesame seeds
Zest and juice from 1 large orange

Rinse the bundle of green onions. Cut the white bulbs and lower stems away from the green portion of the stems. Chop the white portion finely. Slice the green stems into thin rings. Keep the two parts separate.

In a large glass mixing bowl, combine the fresh orange juice, OJ concentrate, soy sauce, chili sauce, and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

In a large skillet, saucepan, or wok, combine the sesame oil and vegetable or peanut oil and heat over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion whites, half the garlic, and the celery. Cook until the onions and celery are clear. Add the chicken, sprinkle with white pepper, and brown. When the chicken has browned, add the liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium heat, and add the rest of the garlic, orange zest, and chili flakes. Simmer and allow sauce to reduce by half, stirring frequently. Add half of the green onions, remove from heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Serve over steamed rice, garnish with the rest of the green onions and sesame seeds (and more chili flakes if you like it hot).

As a postscript, it was a gorgeous sunny day Saturday when I cooked this. I'd committed to cooking it, but promised myself I'd grill on Sunday. Which I did.

It rained.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

All Quiet in the Hundred Acre Wood

Thanks for the Memory to the Llama Butchers. Some of my thoughts here were first posted as comments there.

I was very sad to learn that the men who did the voices of Tigger and Piglet for many years died over the weekend. I'm especially saddened since I also learned form the butcher Boys that the Narrator, Gopher, Pooh, Mrs. Kanga, Owl, and Rabbit are already gone.

I've come to feel that your childhood truly ends not when you grow old, but when the people who made childhood special die. I was first hit with this when we lost Mel Blanc and Jim Henson. This hit me even harder. I'm almost in tears. What makes it worse is the point well made that most of the recent pablum put out under the Pooh aegis is, well, rot.

And worst of all is what was for me (though not for those in the know) a new and distressing revelation, that of A.A. Milne's role in persecuting PG Wodehouse, as well as the poor relationship between Milne and Christopher Robin Milne. The quote that pierced my heart was this one by the younger Milne: "I shall never get over my dislike of being the 'real live Christopher Robin'"

You see, I wanted so much to be, and to a cetain extent was, Christopher Robin. I was a Very Sick Child. An Almost-Died-Several-Times Child. An In-and-Out-of-Hospitals-More-Times-Than-Liz-Taylor-In-and-Out-of-Matrimony Child. And through it all, I had one constant companion, one Samwise to my Fevered Frodo, one friend who stuck closer than a brother: my stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh bear. He accompanied me into every surgery prep, and waited for me in every recovery room. He was there for me to hug, and to cry into, he let me practice with a hypodermic needle on him so that I had someone who knew how I felt. I played with him, slept with him, talked to him. When I was stuck inside sick, I would create fantastic adventures for us to go on in the bed that became a life raft on the high seas, a rocket in space, a tank rumbling through Normandy. I kept him close for years, past an age most would consider normal, but the bond was hard to explain andf harder to break. He eventually became so loved, so worn, that his eyes, throat and parts of his arms had been replaced with mismatched cloth, his nose with a button, and his fabric, in the end, so worn that it couldn't hold a stitch. In short, he was my velveteeen rabbit. I still have him, unreparable, sealed in a ziplock back and kept in a box of keepsakes.

He was a silly old bear. But he was loyal, and patient, and he was my partner in expeditions through my own "Hundred Acre Wood".


I really should have mentioned Dr. Seuss, but while his death is arguably the most remembered of all those I've mentioned, he never had the emotional impact on me that the others did. I enjoyed Cat-in-the-Hat. I lived for Muppets, Pooh, and Looney Tunes. Also, I'll add a couple of extra happy memories, just to make up for the tears.

The Feared Redhead and I met over the phone, long distance, introduced by mutual friends. We had been conversing on the phone for months and had long since fallen in love before we ever met in person, at Minneapolis-St. Paul International. We needed to have a way of identifying each other, so, based on my story of growing up with Pooh, and her feisty redheadedness, we exchanged gifts -- a stuffed pooh from her to me, a stuffed Tigger from me to her.

We have gone to great lengths to deck The Lad out in Winniebilia -- Classic Pooh in particular. Crib sheets, stroller, all sorts of knicknacks. But the coup de grace happened this weekend when, at a garage sale, I found as boxed set of Winnie the Pooh, House at Pooh Corner, When We Were Very Young, and Now We Are Six, all in excellent condition, all for four dollars.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Here's Your Chance to Fiddle While Rome Burns

In "honor" of the Supreme Court's ruling on Eminent Domain, a group of us have decided to start a Constitution Dead Pool. Here's your chance to "bet" on which part of the constitution will get dismantled next!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

That Clarence Thomas is one Bad...

Shut Yo Mouth!
I'm just talkin' 'bout Clarence...
I can dig it!

Thanks for the Memory to CCW1220 posting over at his Blog Ideals & Impossibilities, as well as at our sister Blog, Head West Turn Right. He's got the rundown of the dissents written by Justices O'Connor and Thomas in the Eminent Domain ruling. I have to disagree on one point: Clarence doesn't open a CAN of Whoop-Ass, he opens the whle damned TWELVE PACK:

If such “economic development” takings are for a “public use,” any taking is, and the Court has erased the Public Use Clause from our Constitution…

Today’s decision is simply the latest in a string of our cases construing the Public Use Clause to be a virtual nullity, without the slightest nod to its original meaning.

The Court has elsewhere recognized “the overriding respect for the sanctity of the home that has been embedded in our traditions since the origins of the Republic,” Payton, supra, at 601, when the issue is only whether the government may search a home. Yet today the Court tells us that we are not to “second-guess the City’s considered judgments,” ante, at 18, when the issue is, instead, whether the government may take the infinitely more intrusive step of tearing down petitioners’ homes. Something has gone seriously awry with this Court’s interpretation of the Constitution.

Boo Yah. Dear God, thank you for creating Clarence Thomas with a set of balls the size of the planet Jupiter and with a titanium composition. Amen

I do agree with ccw on two things:

1. Thomas saves the best for last: For all these reasons, I would revisit our Public Use Clause cases and consider returning to the original meaning of the Public Use Clause: that the government may take property only if it actually uses or gives the public a legal right to use the property.

2. Thomas should be the next Chief Justice.

SCOTUS Manages to Piss EVERYONE Off

Thanks for the Memory to Vic over at Darth Apathy.

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the city of New London, CT in a case regarding property rights. In a close 5-4 vote, the Court ruled that cities can use Eminent Domain to seize private property to use for private development.

A few pertinent bits from the AP article:


The 5-4 ruling represented a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.

Local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community, justices said.


At issue was the scope of the Fifth Amendment, which allows governments to take private property through eminent domain if the land is for "public use."

Susette Kelo and several other homeowners in a working-class neighborhood in New London, Conn., filed suit after city officials announced plans to raze their homes for a riverfront hotel, health club and offices.

New London officials countered that the private development plans served a public purpose of boosting economic growth that outweighed the homeowners' property rights, even if the area wasn't blighted.

Isn't that great? Say good bye to your right to private property. This blows the door WIDE OPEN for the government to seize your property on the most specious and arbitrary of pretenses. And it means that if a business wants your land, all they have to do is convince the local city council that letting them have it will "benefit the economy", and hey! Presto! They can have it seized, and the government gets to decide how m,uch you get paid for your property.

Thomas Jefferson must be doing 50,000 RPM's in his grave right now. This is disgusting. When you manage to anger the folks at Democratic Underground AND Protest Warrior all in one fell swoop, you have truly and impressively screwed the pooch.

This is disgusting. It's angering, and it's frightening. I'm trying to avoid hyperbole here, but when I tried to think back to another SCOTUS decision that seemed to my mind as bad, the words "Dred Scott" came to mind and refuse to go away.

I'm looking forward to reading the opinions of the dissenters. There's some real anger over this, if the comments in the blogosphere are an indication:

True Conservatism

Michelle Malkin


Ranting Right Wing Howler

The Limburg Letter
Who wins the prize for the pest quote: While You Were Busy Protesting The Patriot Act the government took your house. I'm sure the residents of New London, Connecticut will be happy to know that while their houses are being demolished, their library records will be safely locked away.

He also does the best job of highlighting the fact that it was the liberal wing of SCOTUS who just legalized the rights rape of small property owners at the hands of big business.

I'm livid. And the more I think about it, the more livid I get. TFR and I dream constantly of the day when we can save up the money, rebuild our credit, and buy a home. Thanks to the Supreme Court, if and when that dream comes true, all it would take is the whim of a local city council to wake us from that dream into a nightmare.


Professor Bainbridge has posted an excellent rant AND a copy of Justice O'Connor's dissent

"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," O'Connor wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

That woman can write.

Update II:

Russell over at Mean Mr. Mustard quickly and succincttly puts paid to the "Just Price" myth.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

More Fun with Theology

Cabin Master over at Uncle Sam's Cabin has their results of the Theology Quiz I took a while back, and also linked to the results of another similar quiz. I decided to play along. I took the quiz twice, losing the results the first time, but here's how I came out:

Your results for Christian Traditions Selector

1: Pentecostal/Charismatic/Assemblies of God (100%)
2: Anabaptist (Mennonite/Quaker etc.) (82%)
3: Congregational/United Church of Christ (77%)
4: Eastern Orthodox (77%)
5: Methodist/Wesleyan/Nazarene (76%)
6: Baptist (Reformed/Particular/Calvinistic) (73%)
7: Presbyterian/Reformed (73%)
8: Anglican/Episcopal/Church of England (68%)
9: Lutheran (68%)
10: Seventh-Day Adventist (68%)
11: Baptist (non-Calvinistic)/Plymouth Brethren/Fundamentalist (64%)
12: Roman Catholic (55%)
13: Church of Christ/Campbellite (47%)

The results threw me, since I tend to look askance at overt displays of pentecostal worship. I supppose it had to do with other issues raised in the quize. Also, considering that my father was ordained in a small, independent Christian Church denomination, and then in a small denomination (the Missionary Church) with Anabaptist and Wesleyan influences, most of the rest of the results seemed to make sense.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

San Diego Snowstorm

Time for this week's installment of stories from my father's Navy days. This one involves "Comshaw", which, as my father explained to me, is the art of using *ahem* "Creative Requisitioning Techniques" to obtain supplies and material, often for the purpose of fulfilling a duty or carrying out a mission with which you have been tasked, but for which you have not been properly equipped. Mind you, it's also used for less pressing needs.

In this case, the fact that crewmembers on my father's ship were skilled in the art of Comshaw was a double edged sword. The ships cook managed to finagle an excellent deal on a large supply of food stuffs from outside official channels. Unfortunately, the supply consisted of cabbage. Copious amounts of cabbage. As my father liked to say, they were served cabbage 5 nights a week, and on the other two they had leftovers.

I don't suppose it takes much imagination on ther reader's part to realize that the crew soon developed strong urges to eat anything BUT cabbage. It is at this point that the other edge cut, and for the sonar crew, their comshaw abilities proved to be a silver lining. On a ship as small as the Bausell, provisions were taken on board in a bucket-brigade stile chain of sailors passing items hand-to hand. The sonar men saw to it that they always had at least two volunteers participating in the brigade, and that they were stationed next to each other. The first would make not of the items being passed down the line, and when he saw a particularly tasty item, which was invariably earmarked for the officer's mess (dining hall), he would give a non-verbal cue, and then pass the item on. One time it was peanut butter and jelly, a rare treat. The next sonar man in line, instead of passing it down the line, would toss it up over his head, where an accomplice would catch it, then hide it. Eventually it made its way to the sonar shack. There, there was a metal panel which was easily removed and concealed a small empty space between the sonar equipment and computers, and the bulkhead (wall). A thin wire was strung from the hatch into the walkway leading to the shack, down in the shack to a dustpan, and served as an alarm. While the smell drove them crazy, the officers NEVER caught my father or his buddies, who always waited until the dead of night to eat their ill-gotten booty.

There was one occasion, however, when despite eluding the officers, the sonar men failed to enjoy the fruits of their labor. It was the time they managed to "requisition" a 5-callon tub full of potato chips. The third man in the comshaw team found himself in a position where he had to hide them temproarily to avoid detection. He looked around, and found what seemed the perfect hiding place: Dark, obscure, and with a round opening of the right curcumference. He hid the tub, vowing to return as quickly as possible when the heat was off.

What he failed to take into account was the conscientious nature of his shipmates. A while later, the ship's torpedoman's mate came to go through his daily maintenance routine. He checked his gauges, swung the tubes perpendicular to the ship, filled the flasks with several thousand Punds of air pressure, and hit the launch button.

My mother still maintains that, in hindsight, they were lucky noone got their head taken off. Not knowing the height of the tubes, I can't say. What I do know is that the ractual results were less tragic but very spectacular. The tub shot out of the tub, hurtled across the dock, and slammed into the side of another ship alongside them with a resounding clang. The force of the impact flattended the can to a platter, and, as my father reported, there was a snowstorm of potato chips that covered the dock.

Getting Really Old

Back before the election, I blogged on an incident where my car was vandalized for sporting a pro-Bush bumper sticker. In the passion of the elections, someone decided that it was a legitimate means of registering their dissent to deface my property. But it hasn't let up since the elections. Not only is it obvious from the scratches on the replacement sticker that further attempts have been made to remove it as well, but both TFR and I have been subjected to dirty looks and obscenities shouted at us as we've driven in and gotten out of our car.

But this time, someone decided not to try to remove our sticker. They decided to add one. I won't repeat the obscenities it contained, but rather leave it to your imagination to decide how they chose to enumerate the old tired "chickenhawk" cliche.

You know what, I'm tired of this. I'm tired of blogging on incidents where Republican campaigners were harassed, attacked, and vandalized, of reading of incidents where people defame the very troops they disingenuously claim to "support", of hearing hyperbolic, hyperventilating, just plain HYPE of people who are willing to equate every action they disagree with to the most evil, oppressive regimes in history just because they have chosen George W. Bush as their own Quixotic windmill, and most of all, I'm tired of being told that *I'M* the one on the side of oppression, when I've noticed that it's those who dfisagree with me who seem most willing to silence or shout down their opponents.

So to those on the left who tell me that "dissent is patriotic", I say to you, it may be, but bullying, strongarm tactics aren't. So start standing up to those who side with you politically when they step over the line, or sit down and shut the F$#@ up.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Weekend TV Blogging

I actually managed to get some TV watching in this weekend, something I don’t do as often as I used to. A few highlights of the weekend:

1. I got to watch the Military Channel’s coverage of this year’s Best Ranger competition. The team I was rooting for came in third, but I was impressed by all of the competitors. For me, the biggest hero of the competition was eliminated during the night after the first day of competition. The competitors work in buddy teams of two. One team had a member who had injured his ankle climbing during an obstacle course. At the end of the day, the teams had to race each other in a 21-mile march carrying 65 pound rucksacks. The buddy of the injured ranger, a young lieutenant, carried both rucksacks for his team. That’s 130 lbs plus of gear. They didn’t complete the course in the required 6 hours in order to remain in the competition, but they were still marching at the end. As the Lt. put it, “We may not finish in time, but we didn’t quit!” These are the people who are defending our freedoms, folks. Watch this show and feel a little more secure.

2. I found myself watching an Indian movie on the AZN network. It was a war movie, and while I can’t remember the title, it was set in the conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. It was actually a very well-made movie. The actors, according to the menu guide, are some of the big names in “Bollywood”. It used some pretty standard and recognizable plot devices and themes, but the depiction of combat was intense but not gory, and the acting was as good as most you’d see in a Hollywood war flick. The soundtrack was an Indian/Rock fusion that worked well, and the cinematography, especially of the mountain climbing scenes, was amazing.

3. I watched bits of a National Geographic Channel special on animal communications, and especially enjoyed watching the section on dogs, especially a study that indicates that dogs can distinguish cancerous tissue from normal tissue just by their sense of smell. I’ll be honest; I was biased, because I’m a huge dog fan. I love my own dog like a family member (albeit not as much as I love my wife or child), and tend to like most dogs I meet. I like big dogs, small dogs, smart dogs, dumb dogs, active dogs, and lazy dogs. I admire their loyalty to their pack mates (us), their
general tendency to accept us unconditionally and even worship us, their playfulness, inquisitiveness, and empathy. I read the results of a study that indicates that dogs have an incredible aptitude for reading human body language -- even higher that that of animals with a reputation for even higher intelligence, such as chimps. Other studies indicate that just petting a dog or cat can lower your heart rate. So naturally, I was a sucker for even more praise for our canine den dwellers.

4. I watched the latest episodes of "The Next Food Network Star". So far I've been unsurprised and fairly in agreement with the eliminations. I'm torn between rooting for Hans, who's the best cook on the show, and Eric, who has the most enjoyable personality and seems the most like a truly good person.

I also find myself saying "My gosh, I could have done that better!" a lot. I really wish I'd tried out for the show. I've had a passion for cooking for a long time, and have even contemplated culinary school in the past, but I'm a bit intimidated by the process of becoming a chef. However, the more in love with cooking I fall, and the more praise I get from people who read my recipes and eat my food (especially from TFR. She's very blunt about any dish that doesn't stack up), the more I think I might have finally found my calling.

UPDATE (6/21/05)

Thanks for the Memory to a comment by Triticale for reminding me:

5. I watched one of those "Week in Science" shows that highlighted, among other cool stuff (Like the imminent launch of the first solar sail satellite), a new device that uses UV light to detect counterfeit Single Malt Scotches.

Anyone who would counterfeit good Single Malt should be soaked in cheap bathtub gin and then lit on fire.

Smoking Break

This week's Carnival of The Recipes has been up since late Friday, and I've had a good amount of traffic from it as usual.

This weekend, to celebrate father's day, I treated myself to some quiality time with the smoker. The results were hit and miss. I finally figured out that if I fill the bottom bin completely with charcoal instead of just adding a chimney's worth, it will maintain a good, even heat in the right range for about 6-7 hours. Armed with that knowledge, I did a rack of ribs that put my first efforts to shame. I made a couple of changes to the rub recipe, one accidentally and one intentionally, that I'll have to remember. Sunday I tried another batch of jerky, and was disappointed. The marinade I tried was ok but not spectacular, and I overcooked it, leaving me with crunchy jerky. Because of this, and despite the ribs, TFR has proclaimed that I am spending too much time with the smoker and must give it a rest for a few weeks. So my next few recipes will be either grill or other cooking forms, nothing involving a smoker.

Because of all the kind comments by Songstress from over at News from the Great Beyond, I thought I'd start out with a recipe that will not only NOT require that she purchase a grill, but heck, doesn't even require a stove. You DO have a fridge, don't you Ms. S?

Saturday night I whipped up a batch of ceviche and served it on Sunday to TFR. She was so impressed she had to call her mom, her sister, and her boss lady to brag. For those of you unfamiliar, ceviche is a Mexican seafood dish which relies on the chemical reaction of lime juice and salt rather than heat to cook the fish. I like to refer to it as "Sushi Salsa". It's delicious if done right, and is an excellent hot weather dish, as it's light, refreshing, and requires NO contact with a hot stove. So here, without further ado, is my:

Sushi Salsa Ceviche

1 lb. fish (I use tilapia, but cod, halibut, sunfish, or any white meat fish will do.)
1 large onion
2 tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 pepper (I prefer habanero, but jalapeno or Serrano would also work.)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp. oregano (obviously, for a Mexican dish, Mexican oregano is preferred.)
1 cup lime juice (Fresh squeezed is best, but bottled will do. Try to get key limes or key lime juice if possible.)

Cut the fish into quarter-inch cubes. Any smaller and they’ll tend to fall apart, any larger and they’re too thick for the marinating process. Place the cubes in a large glass bowl It’s important to use glass. If you can’t, don’t bother making Ceviche. If you insist, use plastic or stainless steel. Avoid at all costs aluminum or copper, as the chemical reaction with the lime juice will ruin the taste. Salt the fish generously. Cut the tomatoes and onions into similarly sized chunks, mince the garlic finely, and add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, and oregano to the bowl. Salt and pepper generously.

Next, add the pepper. Most people use jalapenos, but I don’t like their flavor – it tastes too much like a strong bell pepper, and tends to dominate a dish. I prefer habaneros for two reasons: they’re hot as Hades; and their flavor aside from the heat is much more subtle. Using a habanero adds heat, but doesn’t interfere with the other flavors of the dish. If it’s too hot for you, a good compromise between the jalapeno and the habanero is the Serrano chili.

The next step is very important, especially if you decide to go with a habanero: Put on a pair of gloves. Habaneros are serious business. They are the hottest chili in the world, around 100 times hotter than a jalapeno. If you get any of it on your hands, and then touch sensitive tissue like your eyes, nose, or mouth, you will hurt. Trust me. Using a very sharp paring knife cut the pepper as finely as you possible can: the smaller the pieces, the better. Add to the bowl.

Pour in the lime juice, mix thoroughly. Add enough lime juice so that the entire mix is soaking in lime juice. Cover bowl, refrigerate. Marinate for 18-24 hours. Serve on tostadas or tortilla chips, garnish with avocado and more cilantro.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Food for Thought

I'm sure they were referring to the salads in the counter case, but why is it that when I heard my fellow customers in the deli next door say, "We'll take a large chef and a small chef", my first thought was, "Emeril Lagassi and Giada DeLaurentis"?

Personally, I think Rachel Ray is more attractive than Giada. She's got a fuller, softer, curvier figure. Mind you (and if you ever tell TFR I'll deny it), if I were single, I wouldn't mind being the deli filling in a Rachel-Giada sandwich. Rowr.

Alphabet Stupor: A Study in Contrasts

Thanks for the Memories to the Llama Butchers.

Apparently, the latest concept in parenting is Alpha Moms -- women who can do everything, do it perfectly, and do it better than any other mother. I tried to read the whole article, but found myself quickly turned off by the cold, calculating approach to parenthood it represented. A daycare provider interviewed said it best:

" seems people these days have a more professional attitude toward raising their children. A lot of it is very intellectually thought-out and very scheduled, almost like they have a business plan for their children.”

If there were any truth in advertizing, it'd be called "Stepford Parenting". I was horrified to read this:

The meeting involved the business she was founding: an all-day, all-night, on-demand cable channel where “mothers seeking excellence,” according to press releases, would be able to find “the latest, best-of-breed information”

Good God, people, these are children, not show dogs!

Isabel, with a saucy wag of the head, would later describe the typical member of this breed as, “you know, the maven of mommyhood, the leader of the pack.”

“Definitely dominant,” she said.

Which didn’t sound too cuddly, but as Isabel’s business partner, Vicky Germaise, explained, that was the point. The logo of Alpha Mom TV is not pink and blue but red, white, and black, she said. If not to become strong, for what should a modern mother strive? “Soft and mushy mom?” Come on, said Vicky. “Betty Crocker’s over!”

Right. Because the LAST thing a baby needs is, you know, nurture. Why am I not surprised she comes from the same city as a commenter who told me that nursing our 4-month-old infant son was "pandering" to his "whims"? I guess after test tube babies, the next step is lab-sterile childhoods.

I can't say any more than has already been said about the irony of a woman claiming to represent the capable, can-do mother, when she subcontracts out the care of her child. So I'll borrow what's already been said:

The article suggested that Alpha Moms can do it all, but by the second page I found out how — they have help. "It takes a village," the mom in the article actually said. And she apparently hired a village to watch her kid so she could work 100 hours a week on starting a TV network. Not just a nanny or a babysitter as many parents do, but a nanny and a babysitter and a night nurse. The more she learned about successful motherhood, the more people she hired to achieve it for her, the article said.

That quote is from an excellent article by Susan Konig presenting a counterpoint view of parenting, that of the "Beta" Mom and "Gamma" Dad. It's an excellent read. When I read things like:

The dog licks the top of the baby's head when within reach. I think she thinks he's a puppy.


Besides projectile vomiting on me several times a day necessitating various wardrobe changes for both of us, the baby seemed to continuously pee out the back of his diaper all over his bedding. (Three sons and I still have not figured out this mystery.)

I start looking in my house to find where she's planted the hidden cameras. Konig's take on parenting is frighteningly familiar.

Kallman's is just frightening.

PETA: People for the Evil Treatment of Animals

Thanks for the Memory to Darth Apathy:

I used to make the comment that I found it ironic that people could support abortion while also rooting for animal rights groups like PETA.

I guess I can't make that argument anymore.

Fun with Theology

Thanks for the Memory to The Maximum Leader for pointing me to this quiz:

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox


Reformed Evangelical








Classical Liberal


Roman Catholic


Modern Liberal


What's your theological worldview?
created with

Suprisingly accurate, especially considering my upbringing, which was as the son of a pastor in a denomination with Wesleyan and Arminian influences.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Erring on the Side of Caution

Thanks for the Memory to Darth Apathy.

The results of Terry Schiavo's autopsy have been released.

Let me join Bill Frist in saying, I was wrong. Everything I've read about the autopsy indicates that Terri's brain was as gone as was claimed, and that her parents' claim that she wasn't that bad off were wrong.

It had to be heartbreaking for everyone personally involved, but I'm glad, one way or another, that Terri's suffering is over. Had I known then what I know now, I would not have been so quick to jump in on the side I did.

But I didn't know then what I know now. Had I to do it all over again, with the exact same information I already had, I'd still take the course I did. I'd been presented by several sources with what I felt was evidence sufficiently compelling to call into question the claims of Michael Schiavo and his supporters. In hindsight, that evidence was not accurate.

But hindsight, while 20/20, is also too late. And at the time, I had to go with what I knew. In a case where a life is on the line, it's a hard choice to make. I can't imagine what it was like for those whose choice in the matter actually effected its outcome. It's tempting to just "err on the side of caution", to assume that any possibility that Terri was not as bad off as she has turned out to be means we should give her a chance to prove us wrong. That's the error committed by all of us who spoke out against removal of the feeding tube. It turns out it was a tragic error.

But had we been right, the error by those on the other side would have been just as tragic, or more so. How much more awful would it have been if the autopsy hadf proven Terri's parents' case?

In the end, I don't think anyone "won" here. Terri's dead, lives are devastated and hearts broken, and a great deal of ill will has been generated by both sides. For me, my first step in helping to make things right is to admit I was wrong. The next is to express my sincere empathy for those people, the judges, the medical personnel, and the familiy members, who had no choice but to take a side, and who have, more than the rest of us, to live with the results.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I Love Living In Oregon Reason #28

A night sky so clear and free of light pollution that I could see moonlight reflecting off of a jet's contrail, like a phosphorescent wake behind a ship at sea.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I found this at What Attitude Problem?

Your IQ Is 120

Your Logical Intelligence is Exceptional
Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Exceptional
Your General Knowledge is Above Average

Breast Feeding

Ally over at Who Moved My Truth has a post on breast feeding, apparently prompted by a comment by Barbara Walters (one I haven't heard). In it, she is quick to point out that mothers who breast feed should show decorum when doing so in public.

I can see her point, but I fear that she has overreacted a bit. Speaking as the father of an infant, I have some familiarity with the issue. Let me address a few of Ally's comments:

I don't want to see a bare breast hanging out and a baby eating from it.

Most of the women I know who breastfeed, my wife included, show a hell of a lot more decorum than that. You're creating a straw man and doing a lot of decent women a disservice if you mean to suggest that "a bare breast hanging out and a baby eating from it" is the norm.

I remember the case where the woman was asked to breast-feed in the bathroom of a restaurant, and not at the table.

Yeah, THAT'S sanitary. Would YOU eat in their bathroom?

I don't know the situation, but if that is the restaurant's policy, either follow the rules or eat elsewhere.

You can bet your ass I would. Eat elewhere, that is. I vote with my wallet and my feet.

I put breast-feeding in the same category as public displays of affection.

Funny, they seem to be at extremely different point on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, as I recall. PDA is an optional behavior. Feeding a hungry child shouldn't have to be.

There are places where these are appropriate

Unfortunately, they can be bloody few and far between, even in places you have to go of necessity. Next time you're in a grocery store, take a look around and find the best place to breast feed. I'd like to hear it. Or maybe breastfeeding women should just stay home where they belong? Do you know how often an infant needs to eat? Ending up feeding them in public is eventually unavoidable.

Your right to feed your child does not mean you lay out a blanket in the middle of the mall and go to.

Again, that sounds like an exaggeration to me.

Motherhood does not mean you have the right to do whatever you want, and the rest of world must stand aside.

Since when is tending to your child "Doing whatever you want?" Motherhood, and fatherhood, means doing whatever it damn well takes to care for your child, and if that means you find yourself in situations where you must offend someone in order to see to that child's basic needs, so be it.

It is about respect, folks. Something that is poorly lacking the world today. And it goes both ways.

Sure, you show as much decorum and respect as you can, but in the end, it's all about the baby. Anyone who can't appreciate that is not worth my respect.

Keep Away From Children

I suppose Blogging on th Michael Jackson case at this point would combine the worst of both jumping on a bandwagon AND brating a dead horse AND a lot of other cliche metaphors, but what the heck.

I've heard a lot of disgust over the verdict, and from a parent's point of view, I can understand it. But we must remember that this is how the judicial system is designed to work, with the burden of proof on the prosecution. If anything, people who wanted to see him convicted should be disgusted with the prosecution for failing to carry that burden. The Defense did it's job, raising a "reasonable doubt" as to the proof. What that reason was is a bit mystifying to me, but there it is.

So did he molest kids? I have my opinion on the matter, but I'm not the jury. What I do know is that now that he's been acquitted, Michael Jackson should stay as far away from children, especially underage boys, as he possibly can. It's the smart and right thing to do -- because if he didn't do anything wrong, he doesn't need to muddy the waters any. And if he DID, you know he will again, and next time he might just get caught.

And finally, he should be as far away from kids as possible because, given what he admitted he DID do, regardless of the issue of molestation, he's a bad influence on kids. Pornography? Alchohol? What self respecting parent would LET him near their kids at this point?

I know for myself, if I saw him anywhere near The Lad, I'd provide him with a free additional rearrangement of his facial features.


Kathy over at Cake Eater Chronicles agrees with me.

Update II:

Kathy's reader Russ from Winterset weighs in with the quote of the day on Jackson and his supporters:

Somewhere, near the vicinity of the real world, there's a 35 year old virgin living in his mother's basement who watched the Jackson verdict coverage while practicing conjugating verbs in Klingon. . . . and he's disturbed by the sheer creepiness of these wackos.

Monday, June 13, 2005


I just got off the phone with The Feared Redhead, who tells me the jury has reached a verdict. A van is currently transporting Michael Jackson from Neverland to the courthouse, and the verdict should be read by 2:00 PM PDT.

Update (2:25 PM PDT):


Theory v. Practice

This is Post #2 in a series of posts about my father and his Navy stories. Any misuse of military jargon is due to my spotty civilian memory of my father's explanation.

As I've mentioned before, my father was a sonar man during his days in Uncle Sam's Yacht Club. Sonar, you may know, is an acronym for SOund Navigation And Ranging. This means that it emits sound waves through the water which then bounce off of objects and return to the source, where detection gear receives them back and uses the information to determine an object's size, shape, and relative position and speed in relationship to the emitting ship.

Thanks to movies like The Hunt for Red October, we civilians tend to be most familiar with the Detection portion of the equation, mostly because it's the more exciting use, and to a certain extent because the Navigation part has been taken over in modern times by things like GPS. But in my father's day, navigation was an essential role of sonar, especially in harbor. By taking a sonar reading of the relative position and speed of a known fixed object, like a navigation buoy, it is possible to determine the location, heading, and speed of the ship. The process by which this was accomplished in my father’s day was well-established and had a routine to it. The officer on duty whose job was to navigate would call for a reading from the sonar man on his mark. When he said “Mark!” the sonar man would call out the reading, and the officer would plot it on the ship’s charts.

The officer charged with this duty on my father’s destroyer was a young ensign who had been assigned to the ship directly from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, an Ensign E. Ensign E. was what military types refer to as a “Ring-knocker”, that is, a graduate of a military academy who believes in his own inherent superiority just by virtue of his Alma Mater. Ensign E. was the quintessential such individual, regularly showing contempt for the enlisted men under him and treating them with undue harshness, unwilling to learn from his own mistakes, unable to distinguish from his academic training and real life experience. One example of this was his inability to grasp a concept called Advance and Transfer. As explained to me by my father, Advance and Transfer means that, in the days before GPS, when navigational readings and computations occurred at a speed slower than light, the fact that the ship is moving while you’re navigation means that there will always be a slight discrepancy between where you were when you took your readings and where you are when you plot them. What this means in practical terms is that while in a classroom with a set of coordinates provided from a textbook, you can calculate an exact fixed location, on a ship at sea moving over the water, the coordinates will always be an approximation, albeit a highly accurate approximation with a good crew. My father and his fellow sonar men on the Bausell prided themselves in being such a crew. Ensign E. was not satisfied with anything short of perfection. During the days leading up to a WestPac deployment, as the ship exited San Diego Bay and returned each day, he had them work on navigational readings. And because there was always a margin of error, no matter how slight, on the last night before the deployment, he denied them shore leave. The men would not be given one last night on US soil before the deployment.

Now, in general, treating your men with undue harshness is not a wise course for any officer. It degrades morale, for one thing. But it’s even more foolish when you’re the least experienced officer on board ship, and the men you choose to alienate are the most intelligent, highly trained enlisted men on the entire vessel. My father and his buddies vowed revenge. They would have it, and it would be swift and sure. They spent that last night doing just what Ensign E. had ordered them to do – studying the navigational charts of San Diego Bay, and practicing their navigational skills.

The next day, as the ship slipped its moorings and got under way, Ensign E. took his place at the chart table and began calling for readings. My father, stationed at the sonar equipment, would call out the readings and recorded them in the navigational log. But as the ship began to make the final turn and leave the harbor, my father began calling the readings not from his sonar scope, but from a prepared cheat sheet hidden on his person (though the readings recorded in the log were still from the actual scope). Ensign E. looked puzzled as he plotted the reading. He looked at the chart, looked out the hatch at the harbor, muttered “that can’t be!” and then called out, “Give me another reading!” My father complied. Ensign E. became more confused, more frustrated, and more frantic. For while the official log shows an uneventful cruise up the bay and out to sea, Ensign E.’s chart showed that the USS Bausell had made its turn early and was cruising down the main runway of North Island Naval Air Station.

It’s at this point that my father introduced me to the other officer who plays a part in the story, the ships XO (Executive Officer, the Second-in-Command to the Captain). The XO was the opposite of a “ring-knocker”, he was a “Mustanger”, as my father called him, someone who began his career as an enlisted man but who had server so long and with such distinction that he had earned an officer’s commission, and further had reached an impressive rank even as an officer. He was also as typical of this kind of officer as Ensign E. was of the other. He had a great deal of respect for enlisted men, understood them, and judged them on their character and performance, not their rank. Furthermore he had no tolerance for incompetence, from either enlisted men or officers.

The XO was on the bridge that morning, and Ensign E.’s discomfiture quickly got his attention. He wandered over to the navigation area and watched for a few minutes. Then he walked over to the charts and looked at Ensign E.’s plots. Then he walked over to my father’s station, bent down, and looked at the logs. He looked from the log to my father to the charts, back to the log, and then at my father again, giving him a wicked, sly grin. He straightened up, shifted his foul-smelling briar pipe from one side of his mouth to the other, and addressed Ensign E. by asking him, “What rinky-dink trade school did you come from?”

Friday, June 10, 2005

Desserting the Grill


Don't any of you EVER tell my wife, The Feared Redhead, that I compared her to a rodent, but she has to be the world's happiest guinea pig, since I test all my new experimental food recipes on her, and most are successes. Last night was no different. She wanted something from the grill, and I didn't feel like coming up with a new entree, so I cooked my shrimp tacos as I've mentioned. But I did feel like trying SOMETHING new, so I ventured into new tewrritory: grilled dessert. The result was a hit, so I'm sharing it here:

Candyaki Fruit Kebabs

This dish gets its name from the fact that the sauce reminds me of a teriyaki sauce in color and how it’s made, even though it has a completely different flavor.

To make this recipe you will need:

Bamboo skewers
Fresh fruit (I like using apples, bananas, nectarines, and pineapple, but feel free to experiment.)

Candyaki Sauce:
20 oz. bottle Coca-Cola
1 cup dark rum (Myers is fine, you might also try a lighter spice rum for extra flavor. I used a black strap rum that’s so dark, it’s essentially spiked molasses.)
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup lime juice (key lime if you can get it)
1 tbsp. grated ginger or ginger paste
1 tsp. cinnamon

Vanilla ice cream


Soak bamboo skewers for 30-45 minutes in cold water.

Cut the fresh fruit into chunks. You want the chunks to be big enough to stay on the skewers, but not so big that they don’t cook through. It’s also important that all the fruit be cut into chunks of similar size for even cooking.

Insert skewers through the fruit, alternating chunks of different fruit.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the Coca-Cola, rum, lime juice, ginger, brown sugar, and vanilla. Heat the sauce to a low boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer, letting sauce reduce.

Place the skewers on a grill over medium high heat. Transfer saucepan to grill next to skewers. Brush skewers with sauce frequently, turning each time to avoid burning. Cook until the fruit is cooked through and coated with sauce and the coating is caramelized.


Remove fruit from skewer. Place fruit over vanilla ice cream, spoon the excess sauce over the top. Makes 4-6 skewers.

*Not Safe For Diabetics

Escargot Away!

With it's damp, mild winters, Oregon is heaven for gastropods. The banana slugs are huge. It's a matter of perverted pride and humor here.

So last night, I opened the grill to cook up some of my shrimp tacos, and right in the middle of the grill was a snail. And all across the grill were snail tracks.

Now, I was duly grossed out and spent a good deal of time scrubbing the grill, but I was also impressed. This snail had crossed the gap from one bar of the grill to another.


The last two mornings, as my carpool partner and I have walked from his truck to the door at work, we've been followed by someone with criminal intent. I know this to be so, because I saw them shadow our movements, hiding behind trees as they did. They're looking for a chance to rob us blind. I've gotten a good look at the thief, and know from bitter experience how quickly this criminal can victimize you. He already has a reputation, and his picture's on file:

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This is a Steller's Jay. It's our West Coast equivalent of the Blue Jay, and like the Gray or Canadian Jay, we refer to it as a Robber Jay. I've had these little buggers swoop in to a table at a campsite and steal food from a plate less than a foot in front of me. They're related to crows, and they're brazen, shamelsss thiefs.

I also think they're gorgeous.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

It's About Damned Time!

Thanks for the Memory to Blogfather Rusty.

It's been a long time coming, but finally, the US and NATO are going to intervene in Darfur. It's too late for almost a quarter of a million people, but at least now we'll get off our arses and help.

Top Ten List for Thursday, June 9, 2005

So I give my friend Vulture Six a lot of ribbing about how much I prefer my beloved home state of Oregon to his beloved Texas, and he gives me just as much ribbing back. But he is a good friend, and quite fair-minded. So, to be fair and respond in kind, I present:

Top Ten Reasons Houston Isn't As Bad As I Let On

10. Cheap gasoline. Saved our budgetary arses, it did.
9. Johnson Space Center. If you love science, love astronomy, love the space program, Houston has a special place in your nostalgia. I just wish I'd had time to go see it.
8. Tex-Mex. I prefer Baja cuisine myself, but I have to admit to enjoying Tex-Mex, especially those fried dessert things... what were they called? And I wonder why I need to lose weight.
7. Chik Fil-A (sp?). OK, so it's found other places, but that's where I was introduced to it.
6. Shiner Bock. Damned good beer. I still favor local brews, but Oregonians pride themselves on appreciating good beer as much as making it, and so I have to give it its props. It sure as hell beats Sam Adams five different ways from Sunday.
5. Whattaburger. Mmmmmmm...... best damned restaurant hamberger I've ever had. Puts In-N-Out or my local favorite, Burgerville, to shame (notice a trend here?).
4. Texans know how to throw a party. Seriously, Scott, that was the best spread I've ever seen. Brisket, chicken, sausage... I'm starting to drool.
3. It's home to one of the best friends you could ever ask for.
2. Give me a second, I'll think of something.... Oh, Yeah:

Mountain Vistas

Since I moved back to Oregon, and settled here in Lane County, this has become my favorite time of year. One of the reasons I favor it is because it's early enough in the year that there is still snow in the High Cascades, but the weather is nice enough down here in the valleys that you get clear air and a good view of the mountains. In fact, because of the placement of one of our local freeways, I-105/Hwy 126, as it passes over I-5, our daily drive home points us straight at a picture-framed view of this:

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albeit from a different angle and a greater distance, it's a gorgeous sight each day. Those are the Three Sisters, and they're among the most likely volcanoes in the central Cascades to reactivate during my lifetime.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Candle in the Windows (And Mac and Linux)

Thanks for the Memory to Nickie Goomba.

I often get annoyed when people from "Red States" express their annoyance with West Coast politics by expressing a wish, however sarcastic, that the Left Coast would just secede or be nuked by North Korea or some such stupidity. For starters, there are plenty of us out here who are just as fed up with our leftists, thank you, and we're doing the best we can to change things. Secondly, the implication that this region is any less American is just stupid. Do I really have to trot out the statistics on how many Guards and reserves from Oregon alone are serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, or the number of casualties they've suffered? I guess they don't count as Americans because they're from Blue states, huh? I swear, sometimes I'm as embarassed by my political allies as I am amused by my opponents, and just as outraged.

I'd do well to remember that the next time I feel the urge to make disparaging remarks about all Europeans just because the majority over there is at political odds with me. Nickie Goomba has pointed me to an encouraging Blog called Free Thoughts, out of Sardinia.

At first I thought the writing style was a bit unpolished, but that's understandable as she's an Italian Blogging in English. She's bright, well-informed, expressive, and has a passionate love of freedom. If I were single and ten years younger, I'd be in love!

Go check out Free Thoughts, give it a read. If you like it, leave a comment encouraging her. And if you have a Blog, please, give her some link love.

More on Light and Shadow

A while back I Blogged on how my new work schedule was affording me an opportunity to observe the way the time of day and the weather affected the sunlight, and to begin to understand what architects and photographers mean by “Quality of light”. This morning is one of those gorgeous mornings, the sky overhead is cloudless, and the low angle of the sun means it’s not flooding the whole landscape outside with light, but rather is lighting up tall objects like trees and hills, casting surprisingly dark shadows for such brightly lit objects, providing for sharp, clear contrasts. It makes everything look almost more real than normal, if that’s possible. What I mean by that is, each object being lit stands out, has its own noticeable individual identity instead of being part of some homogenous background.

Last night a different time of day and a different set of conditions gave some different but eerily beautiful results.

The weather for most of the day yesterday was quite rainy (but not that cold), as if the weather is trying to make up for lost time before summer officially arrives. As the day wore on, the weather began to clear, until by the time I picked up TFR from work, some time after 8 PM, not only were there spots in which the clouds did not rain, there were patches of completely clear sky. As the sun set (this far north, summer sunsets are quite late), it hit that gap between the mountains and the clouds that I love so much, lightening the sky and tingeing the clouds to the west with an incandescent edge, fading into crimsons and violets. Oregon has some of the most gorgeous sunsets you’ll ever see, and they only get better over on the coast.

This last effort to shine left the sky over Eugene bright and glowing, surprisingly bright for such a rainy day. As we drove from Eugene into Springfield, there was a mist hanging close to the ground, and as the sun lit it, it created a golden glow around and over us. Farther to the east, it was darker, as if that wall of mist absorbed the last of the sunlight, but the higher cloud level meant that it was a whitish-bluish-grayish darkness, more like the rainy day it had been than like the night that was coming, until over the Cascades farther to the east, where the clouds met the Earth, it was the thick, brooding darkness of a storm.

Here's to You, Mrs. Robinson

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Anne Bancroft

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

One Hand Clapping, One Voice Laughing

As I may or may not have mentioned, The Feared Redhead just took employment at a new spa, which I shall refrain from naming to protect her. This new spa, like many businesses in her line of work, tends to be a bit on the umm... New Agey side (this is Eugene, after all, but it's a universal trend in that industry), and tends to advocate products and services that help people focus their chi and cleanse their energy etc. etc....

Last Saturday, TFR brought me into the spa for a tour. While their, I needed to use the little Bloggers room. TFR showed me to the guest restroom and left me to fend for myself. In the room, I observed a lovely, very pseudo-zen arrangement on a metal table of a bamboo mat on which was a lit candle surrounded by various sizes of polished river stones. I decided to switch the places of two to see if it would ever be noticed. As I picked up one small stone, I realized someone had beaten me to it. It wasn't a stone. It was a Milk Dud.

I have a new hero.

Another Brick in the Wall...

...As Long As It's Not A Red Brick

(Originally Posted April 4, 2005)

Thanks for the Memory to The Llama Butchers.

TFR and I have already decided that, if at all possible, The Lad will receive his primary education either at home or at a private school.

This article sealed that decision.

Apparently, schools are discontinuing the use of red pens for grading and correcting papers because it "stresses children out".

Now, those who know me personally know that, due to my own educational background (I was diagnosed as having an unspecified "learning disability"), I'm no fan of hidebound approaches to education. But this seems a bit over the top.

The article goes on to describe the negative connotations associated with red ink, and that it focuses too much on the mistakes in a paper. I believe they've missed the point.

When I was a child, the connotation of red ink had nothing to do with the quality of the student's work. It had everything to do with the teacher's authority. Red ink was reserved for teachers. So when you saw red ink, you knew that whatever was written in it carried weight. I remember one algebra teacher who had a tendency to mark GOOD papers with more red ink than he did the poor papers.

In the end, the message conveyed has more to do with the teacher than their pen. If they're good, they'll find ways to convey to a student both the areas in which they did well, and those that need improvement. I recall looking forward to words of praise written in red ink!

The article itself ends with a comment that I think sums up well my own response:

In Charles County, Maryland, reading and writing specialist Janet Jones helps other teachers lead their lessons. The students at Berry Elementary School in Waldorf, Maryland, use colored pencils to edit each other's papers. By the time teachers get to grading, Jones said, the color they use isn't that important.

"I don't think changing to purple or green will make a huge difference if the teaching doesn't go along with it," Jones said. "If you're just looking at avoiding the color red, the students might not be as frightened, but they won't be better writers."

Sadly, it would seem that in too many cases these days, that's just fine with educators.

Update (6/7/05)

The Llama Butchers are weighing in on this issue again, in response to an essay by Christina Hoff Summers. Both are excellent reading.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Dad's Navy Days: The Pie Story

Over the weekend, I had a chance to discuss my Memorial Day post over the phone with my good friend Vulture Six, who had the honor of knowing my father before his death. Dad and V6 got along famously because they were both Navy vets. Like I did as a child, Vulture loved to listen to my dad's Navy stories. In the time he was in the Navy, my father managed to cram in a lot of interesting experiences, and loved to regale us with memories of them. Scott is of the opinion that I shoul,d commit some of those stories to my Blog so that I can preserve them for posterity. I think it's a capital idea. So today I am going to share my favorite story:

My father was a sonarman on a destroyer in the early 60's. Back in those days, he would tell me, on a small ship like that you were often called upon to do jobs not normally associated with your rate. In my father's case, he had some experience as an electrician, so he often found himself doing wiring in addition to his sonar duties. One day, that job took him into the ship's galley (kitchen) as he rasn wiring through it.

My father's ship was one of the best run destroyers in the navy, and was the flagship of its Desron (Destroyer Squadron). This meant that in addition to the skipper of the ship, it was home to the Commodore (an officer of the Navy rank of Captain who was in command of a group of ships) of the Desron. The Commodore had on board with him his own cook, who was also busy working in the galley at the same time. He had placed out to cool two blackberry pies. I've already mentioned how dearly Oregonians love blackberries.

The Electrician's toolbox that my father was using consisted of an upper tray full of tools, and a lower compartment with two curcular cutouts to hold spools of wire. As it would happen, these circular holes were of an ideal circumference fgor holding a pie plate. When the cook was not looking, my father lifted out a spool of wire, set the pie in its place, replaced the tool tray, and continued to work. A little while later, he left the compartment to continue his work elsewhere. Late than night, while standing watch in the sonar shack, he ate the pie.

Now, the commodore's cook was no dummy, and he put two and two together. A few days later, as they were having inspection, the Commodore approached my father.

Commodore: "B., do you like pie?"
Dad: "Yes, sir, I love pie."
Commodore: "Do you like Blackberry pie, B.?"
Dad: "I'm from Oregon, sir, that's probably my favorite."
Commodore: "B.?"
Dad: "Yes, sir?"
Commodore: "My cook would like his pie plate back."
Dad: "Aye aye, sir!"

Maximum Leader on Immigration

Yet again The Maximum Leader over at Naked Villainy says for me what I've been intending to say but never got around to. And probably much better than I would have.

I Love the Smell of Charcoal in the Morning.

It smells like… Barbecue!

Despite weather that couldn’t make up its mind what it wanted to do, I managed to cook outside on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday I grilled chicken on the gas grill using a marinade recipe I learned from the cook at a church I attended in San Diego. The recipe works best if you can marinate your meat in it at least 24 hours, but I left my chicken in it for only about 10 hours and it still worked well. In addition, I discovered that it makes a great flavor base for jerky made on the smoker, and also tastes good basted onto grilled veggies:

Monkey Meat Marinade

1 medium sized ginger root
5 cloves garlic
1 10 oz. bottle of soy sauce
1 20 oz. bottle 7up or other lemon-lime pop
¼ cup sugar

Peel and grate ginger, chop garlic finely. Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl. Pour over chicken or beef, cover and refrigerate, marinate 1-3 nights.

Sunday, as I mentioned earlier, was spent barbecuing. I find very interesting the various permutations of barbecue found throughout the Southeast, Southwest, and Lower Midwest (Missouri). The debate over which are the proper methods of preparing the meat, and which meat to use, leave me bemused and drooling. Not living in or being from any of those regions, I have no vested interest in or philosophical commitment to any one method. For me, it’s all about the end result: does it taste good? That works for me.

So yesterday, I decided not to take sides in the great debate over wet vs. dry. I decided to borrow from, and probably to offend, ALL interested parties, by combining several different methods.

I started by selecting pork as the meat of choice for this round, since I’d already tried my hand at beef (brisket). I had two cuts of meat – a loin and a rack of baby backs. Friday afternoon I started marinating them in two bottles of red wine vinaigrette dressing. Sunday after church, I fired up the smoker, and removed the pork from the fridge. I patted it dry and applied a dry rub of my own concoction. The spices in it included ground sun dried tomato, paprika, cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, turmeric, cumin, sage, oregano, sugar, salt, and white pepper. After applying the dry rub, I started cooking. After an hour or so, when the dry rub had time to cook in to the meat, I turned it over to let the other side cook, and applied a wet sop. The sop was made up of V-8 Juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, and a package of zesty Italian dressing mix. I continued applying this sop and turning the meat for another two hours, then started applying barbecue sauce. I confess that I didn’t make my own, but relied on a high quality commercial sauce out of Texas called Stubb’s. I cooked the meat for the last two hours continuously applying Stubb’s Spicy. The last half hour or so, I ran out of charcoal and the smoker couldn’t keep up sufficient heat, so I finished it on the gas grill. That may horrify the purist, but it got the job done, and by that point, the meat had absorbed plenty of smoke.

For sides, I tossed a couple of ears of corn, still in their husks, onto the grill, and in my grill basket I cooked up some green beans with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. I finished the meal with dinner rolls and a bottle of Pinot Noir Blanc (I didn’t think a white wine could stand up to the intensity of the BBQ sauce, and a red would probably be too dry -- a blush worked perfectly).

I was quite pleased with the results, and so was The Feared Redhead. I was informed, and I quote, “You can make this recipe again”. How generous of her. The one thing we agreed on is that next time, I could probably save myself some trouble and skip the sop in the middle, relying only on the dry rub and the sauce.

Carpe Diem Blogging

I decided to take Ally's advice and seize the (birth)day yesterday. Saturday I went out and bought myself a birthday cake, which we took to church with us yesterday and shared with the congregation. They sang Happy Birthday to me. I also informed TFR that while I would help with The Lad, no Honey Do projects would be undertaken yesterday. I spent the whole afternoon in one of my favorite pursuits, namely cooking, as I barbecued a rack of pork baby back ribs on the smoker. They were awesome, and I shall blog on them later today. I received several phone calls wishing me happy birthday, including from my mother, my sister, my good friend Vulture 6, and fro ma group of old and very dear friends down in San Diego. The Feared Redhead gave me a pair of pajamas and a pocket watch for my birthday, and we finished the day with a DQ ice cream cake.

All in all, a much better birthday than I anticipated. Thanks to all of you for your kind thoughts too.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Baby Blogging

I guess I wasn't ready to catch the "They grow up too fast" bug so early on, but I knew it would happen. Four months after his premature birth, and The Lad is already wearing size 3 diapers, and yesterday I got to watch him roll over from his belly to his back for the very first time. It was so cool! He graduated this week from a basinet to a crib. I remember watching him laying there in the NICU, so tiny and fragile looking, and now while he's still just a wee bairn, he's a chunk, and squirmy and active and expressive. It's amazing to watch him grow.


Along with the good comes the bad. The Lad had his four month checkup today, and the doctor says he has a hernia and may need surgery. Please pray for him.


Apparently someone found my Blog after Googling chicken thrill.

I don't want to know.

Birthday Blues

Sunday's my 37th birthday, and quite frankly, I'm viewing it's approach with a bit of malaise. I'm not dreading it, like some big number (50 or 60 or even 40), I'm just not that excited about it. No party is planned, I doubt we'll even get a cake. Last night we had to buy some baby supplies, so while we were at the mall, TFR asked me to show her some ideas for gifts, then made me disappear for a while. So there's very little surprise to what I'll receive as a gift. It's my own damned fault, because I make myself hard to shop for by never really making it clear what I'd like. I tried the idea of making a running list on the computer, but I forgot to print it out for her in time.

I guess what really gets me down is that it's been a very long time since a big deal was made out of my birthday, or since I had a party. I've never in my life had a surprise party thrown for me, and the last few years, I haven't had a party at all. I'm a grown man, so I'm not supposed to care about such things, but for once, I'd like to be the Birthday Boy.

The Carnival Comes to Town

Carnival of the Recipes is up.