The mostly humorous ramblings of my day to day existence.

Friday, December 30, 2011

OK now that Christmas is over, you survived the traffic, the big dinner, and the credit card bill, it's now time for a new year, a new beginning, an apocalyptic end to the world!
2012, isn't that when the world is supposed to end? Isn't that when the Mayans ran out of rock to carve on, isn't that when Nostradamus said everyone will get gas from eating too many Big Macs? Will Newt Gingrich become president?!
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” I say as I hide under a bed!
OK everyone get a grip. We all know, well some of us know, that bad crap will eventually happen to planet earth. And bad things do happen on a regular basis, like big earth quakes, tsunamis, volcanoes erupt, crazy guys get big bombs, you know the normal bad things. Heck one day a big rock could fall out of space and squash us all like bugs; it's happened before. Big dinosaurs once looked up into the sky as one squashed them with a fiery ball. They were clueless because of their small sunflower seed sized brains (like chickens), but it must have been one hell of a barbecue.
Hummmm, let's talk about other things like New Years resolutions. I think most of us think about new beginnings in the new year.
What will it be?
  • Loose weight.
  • Exercise more.
  • Eat Better.
  • Get more money.
  • Find a way to get your asshat boss fired.
We all have our lofty goal that most of us fail at. You have to really want to do those things in order to accomplish them. If your love of Ho Hos is greater than your love of jogging in the rain then which one do you think will prevail, eh chubby? My motivation for exercising more is the painful body parts that remind me that if I don't move I will rot. So yes, I will be doing more exercise because pain just sucks. But fudge is coming after me from every angle and I don't know what to do! A little fudge won't kill me will it? I'm not allergic to walnuts.
I think this is going to be an interesting year. We are going to have a presidential election and we are going to have people acting like total nut nuts because of the 2012 end of world predictions. And the fun part is we get to experience the craziness the entire year! The election isn't until October and the end of the world isn't expected until December.
So Whooo Hooo! monkeys with pants will be freaking out selling their cars, houses, and... pants. Religious fanatics will be passing around the Cool-Aid, and seeing Jesus in their burnt potato chips. People will be giving money to heathen pet sitters who won't be ascending to heaven when the rapture hits.
So Happy New Year! Now go get good and drunk, put the taxi service on speed dial and have a blast. While your drunk tell your asshat boss he's a... well an asshat. You can tell him on Monday you were drunk and thought he was your neighbor Daryl, so he won't fire you.
Tonight we are celebrating a day early and hiring a sitter and going to see a movie call “My idiot brother”. It's showing at a small movie theater where you text for a beer refill, and waiters deliver food to your seat. I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Firkroy Christmas Special!

Christmas, a time of joy, a time of brotherly love, and a time for self reflection. Gatherings of family and friends in a festive atmosphere always makes for a time that everyone looks forward to. Before we can have the merry making, we need to do a month of shopping for the right gifts. The Internet makes it easy for some things, but other things we have to shop for the old fashioned way, by getting in our automobiles and dealing with the horrendous parking. In our family re-arranging the living room comes next, then bringing in the countless boxes of Christmas decorations, plates, candles, and assorted things to be plugged in from the garage. 

One of my favorite parts of the celebration is our yearly trek out to get our Christmas tree while listening to Christmas music on the radio. We got out to a tree farm just outside of town where we were greeted by a Santa waving and meeting cars as they came in. We all got candy canes, and decide to go look at trees that have already been cut. You can go out into the field and saw one down if you feel like it, but luckily for me my wife spied a Noble Fir that she had to have pre-cut right off the bat. They put the tree in a machine that shakes off all of the bugs, and loose needles, and then I had them run it through the bailing machine for easy transport. When we got home we put it into it's stand, and added water. The kids have gotten to the age where they can decorate the tree for the most part, and it was fun watching them adding ornaments while giggling with excitement.

My children both love Christmas, the lights everywhere, the goodies they are going to consume, and their endless gift list for Santa. A guy showing off his remote control helicopters for sale in the mall was a big hit with them. He was selling me hard and offering me deals if I bought them today. He wasn't aware that I read the same book on sales, and I wasn't getting a twisted arm on this day, damn it! But the kids will get their stuff, and I will get to shop at the Holiday Market filled will items created by our local artisans. Oh, did I mention the home made fudge, I love the fudge...Ho Ho Ho.

As a card carrying heathen I often take a squinted view of the whole Christian part of the Christmas experience. I tend to look at the whole thing as an extended solstice celebration but that's just me. I have no problem with people believing that the person who saved them from burning in hell for eternity had a birthday, and now it's time to have a big consumer orgy. (I figure if there is a hell then mine will be filled with chickens pecking away at my ankles and screaming “No barbecue sauce for you!”) But it would be nice if those same people would stop trying to make everyone else conform to their beliefs. If I'm not into stoning people to death for Jesus like it says in “The Good Book” then that should be OK.

This time of year brings out the Christmas militants, they are everywhere with signs in their yards promoting “Put Christ back in Christmas” and condemning the phrase “Happy Holidays” as a conspiracy to tear down the very fabric of the celebration of the birthday of the one who saved them from burning in the fires of hell. It doesn't matter that the Christmas tree is a Pagan invention, or that Jews are celebrating Hanukkah at the same time. You better be promoting Jesus and if you don't then you must be waging war against Christmas! There is no war against Christmas, believe it or not it's just paranoia. The real war is in the minds of those trying to deal with the conflicts between their religion and reality. That Satan guy isn't fabricating contradictory information to your beliefs, reality is simply what it is, reality. 

I had Jehovah Witnesses show up one Christmas morning while I was in my bathrobe, they looked at me up and down like I was indecent. What was indecent was showing up at my doorstep on Christmas morning at 8AM!

I remember saying “Go away” and closing the door. They “hurmft” and went next door to spread their message of “No friggen fun for you!” to my neighbors. 

I've been thinking about putting up some sort of protection from religious militants for Christmas morning. I'll have to watch the movies Home Alone 1, 2, and 3 to get some good ideas. I'm thinking a generous amount of ice, tar, and pointy things is in order.

Now you may find me a bit sacrilegious, but I don't mind. I think Santa is still going to leave me a bottle of cognac under the tree if I've been good. I'm not sure if I'm going to cook another turkey on the barbecue or not, we had a turkey for Thanksgiving and maybe the gobblers need a break. A pig might have to be sacrificed, and a ham served for Christmas dinner. It's nice to change the glutenous meal from time to time.

This year my wife and I are both missing our parents as we both had one pass away very close together, My wife's mother Marge, and my Dad Al will be in our hearts this year and very much missed, we love you both.

Now, everyone have a wonderful holiday no matter what you believe. If you think there is a war brewing against your beliefs then turn off Faux news, take the little pills the doctor gave you, and have some eggnog with a lot of booze for god's sake!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Have a great Kwanzaa, Fabulous Solstice, a Happy Holiday, and a Wonderful New Year!
And if I left anyone out then Happy (fill in the blank)!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Coneheads Are Running Everything!

At this time of the year it always seems hard for me to get off of my butt and get some writing done. Not that I'm sitting on my butt, it's just that there are so many things to do. With the holidays here and with ¾ of the family in school I end up playing Mr. Mom to the Max! My two young boys are mess making cyclones traveling in circles around the house throwing Legos and kick boxing each other, all the while making dirty dishes and wiping their little paws on the furniture. I'll be the first one to concede that I don't enjoy being the household janitor, and I don't like continually washing dishes and filthy kid cloths, hell who does, it just sucks.
When the kids get home from school I have to crack the whip on the little homework slacking mess-makers, and it usually ends up being more work for me than it is for them. They are learning about fractions, and nouns, and the groans of despair that can be heard with every page of work. This makes me the student of calmness and Zen, and helps me expand my knowledge of the local beer trade.
“Am I just a slave?” is a favorite proclamation of the miniature masses when I ask them to put away their newly washed boxer shorts into the proper drawer. I know what your thinking. “Why not just get the kids to help?” Well I do have them help to some extent (with a lot of effort on my part) but you just can't give them a to-do list and expect everything to be done in a satisfactory manor. Maybe I'm just being a perfectionist, but when I ask to have the garbage taken out, I really do expect a new bag to be put in the can before you jump back on the couch for another episode of Scooby Doo.
Talking about Scooby Doo, have you seen any of the countless Scooby Doo movies that are being cranked out of Korea? They really are very good, but when you reveal the man in the mask you will see that Scooby Doo is really some guy named Mr. Pang who works for a company named DongWoo Animation. I have to stop and wonder, what are they putting in Scooby snacks, Kimchi maybe. Is the Mystery machine really a Kia minivan? Are the bad guys really spies sent in by North Korean mad man Kim Jong-il? He has an excuse for coming off as a mad man you know, and you do realize by now that Jong-il is simply a demented Conehead alien.
OK, OK, you've all heard this alien conspiracy stuff from me before, and you may be thinking “Did Dan stop taking his medications again?” But hey, I'm no loon! All heads of state, and people running for office are Conehead aliens. Have you looked at the American presidential candidates lately? Take a real close look, they may look human, but when they open their mouths it's all “Your positive perception of me is vital to my existence.” when they speak. I swear they have all had plastic surgery, and wear makeup. Most have had half their brains removed (presidential candidates), and others simply wear big cowboy hats (Texan politicians), but rest assured they are all Coneheads. If you went to any of their houses on Halloween you would be given six-packs of beer, and fried eggs.
Fried eggs made me think of food, and on the food front I decided to make this week soup and salad week, or at least for the next few days. I had the -manna of the gods- chicken fried steak at Sheri's restaurant the other day, “mmmm boy.” was it good. But I'm feeling the need for more roughage. Oh, and don't listen to anyone who would put down chicken fried steak they're obviously Coneheads on Vulcan crack. But seriously, I do need to eat in a more healthy fashion if I intend on living to a ripe old age. So I try to have regular salads and cut down on piles of wheat and red meat. We had a Chef's Salad tonight with the other white meat (oink), and tomorrow it will be a chicken noodle soup. Yes, I had red moo cow meat in the chicken fried steak, but all of the veggies, and soup are the antidotes.
Do you ever wonder what aliens are doing with our moo cows? Do you think they're turning them into burritos? Yep, the damn aliens are turning our cows into burritos, and putting themselves in charge all over the world. You've seen the pictures of the gray big eyed creature that was supposedly held at Area 51 haven't you? I believe there may indeed have been an unfortunate accident that caused this alien to get stuck on the planet of the apes.
This particular alien must have really screwed up in order to let himself be captured by primates. Maybe he was sitting on the toilet when his spaceship crashed into earth.
“This is Mesloid calling the mother ship, I'm approaching earth, come in...” the alien said into his intergalactic communicator.
“Oh man I shouldn't have eaten those last three moo cow burritos!” Mesloid says as he runs to the can.
Meanwhile, “Beep, Beeep, Beeeeeep, GET OFF THE CAN DUMB ASS!!” His control panel screams. On his dashboard the red “Going to run into a planet” light comes on, while he's preoccupied with other business.
He starts to wake up, blinking his big oval eyes. He starts to realizes he's not in his spaceship anymore, he's actually on a cold, hard table with bright lights overhead.
“Well this just sucks!” says Mesloid as he realizes that he's on the wrong end of an anal probe.
The only reason all of this hasn't been made public is because of the Coneheads who are running everything don't want you to know about it. They are in league with the gray big eyed aliens, and they want our cows.
OK, I've said enough for now, it's time to put on my aluminum foil hat and to sit down and watch “My Name is Earl.” on Netflix and pretend that aliens really don't exist.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Seargent's Story, of the Great White North

It was a hard decision to make, re-entering the Air Force after being out for over a year, but it was 1982 and the economy just stank. I had to trade my Swiss army knife for a tank of gas to get to the military recruitment office to raise my right hand once again, and swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Unfortunately for me I was living on North Dakota street at the time, and someone in the assignment office must have thought it would be real funny to give me orders to Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. A Strategic Air Command SAC bomber base poised to strike the USSR right over the North Pole.

I was able to get an advance on my travel pay and purchase a used Volkswagen 412 to drive across Idaho, Montana, and into North Dakota in the dead of winter. I had never driven on snow packed freeways for hundreds of miles before, and I was sort of enjoying the adventure. I had a tire blowout in Idaho and was able to purchase some used studded tires that came in very handy. The heater didn't exactly work very well in my Volkswagen with no radiator, so I spent a lot of time scraping ice from the inside of the window that accumulated from my breath.

Per Potentiam Pax, Latin for Peace through Power.
After a couple days of driving, and sleeping at a rest area in my car in sub zero weather, I finally arrived at Grand Forks. Not exactly what I would call a winter wonderland with it's flat bleak landscape, and blowing snow snakes. Coming from a place where you always saw hills and mountains the flatness everywhere was unreal. I was able to get a room, and the next day showed up at my duty assignment, the Radio shop at the 319th Avionic Maintenance Squadron. I rang the doorbell to the secure room and I was greeted by a familiar face, John Treadaway an old high school acquaintance that I had run track and cross country with in High School. I really couldn't believe I was going to work with someone I went to school with, but those High School days were long gone, and we never really developed a friendship. I was a Sergeant and he was an Airman First Class with a chip on his shoulder. I suppose he looked at me as one of the authority figures that he had a grudge against.

After processing, and training on B-52 bombers I was assigned to the swing shift; 4PM to Midnight. The swing shift supervisor's name was Staff Sergeant Johnny Blane. Johnny was great to work with, a charismatic leader who knew how to motivate his people. I soon became second in charge, and after testing, and making the cutoff was waiting for a promotion to SSGT myself. Johnny was on top of his game, but his life took an unexpected twist after a random piss test. It came back positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The Air Force had a zero tolerance policy toward drugs, you could get drunk every night if you wanted to, and if the police weren't involved, nobody cared. But don't Bogart that joint my friend, because if you did, they would find out, and make you miserable before they shoved you out the gate.

Johnny claimed that his brother had sent him some funny brownies as a joke, and that he wasn't a pot head. Of course it didn't work (it never did), and Johnny was demoted, forced to clean toilets for months, then booted out. At about this time I received my promotion, and took Johnny's place as the swing shift supervisor. Johnny got married to a woman in our shop before getting busted, and she got orders to Alaska. We received a post card from Johnny months later with a picture of him surrounded by a table of pot. I guess those brownies really must have been addictive.

SSGT Daniel LaFollette re-enlisting in the Radio Shop. I drew the Garfield in the background.
I was a pretty easy going boss, all I really cared about was that we got all of our work done. If we got everything done we would get off work early on Fridays, and head into town for Margaritas. Lunch usually consisted of boxes we affectionately called box nasties. When mystery meat sandwiches on white bread where placed in our box nasties, someone would usually declined to eat theirs and the Glad wrapped questionable food item would become a baseball. Mystery meat sandwich baseball was always a good lunch time activity in the shop, and we tried to remove the meat and bread chunks out of the million dollar satellite communication radio tester before we left for the night, but the day shift supervisor did find a chunk of meat one morning, no big deal it was blown off as being left by a sloppy eater. It was handy to have a lock on the door because of our secret equipment in the room, this way nobody ever hit a sandwich home run just as the Squadron Commander walked in. SAC officers just didn't have a sense of humor.

Grand Forks was really a depressing place in the winter, and most of the time it seemed to be winter. The only thing that there seemed to be able to do was go to bars or restaurants. They had great bars, and drinks like the Suffering Bastard in a skull mug were my favorite drinks, I don't think it was safe to drink more than one of those unless you liked a pounding head in the morning, they really lived up to their name.

living in the barracks as a Staff Sergeant meant I had my own room; it did however come at a price. I was put in charge of half the hallway on the third floor, and I had the key to the room where the vacuum cleaner was stored. Anyone wanting to clean up after hours would could come to me asking for the key. It became a little annoying when I received a knock on the door at 1 AM from a drunk (Suffering Bastard) who wanted to use the vacuum.

“I -hic-” “need the vacuum cleaner” A swaying, slurring young man said to me as I opened the door.
“It's 1 o'clock in the morning go back to bed man.” I say to the weaving drunkard, as I squinted through one eye.
“I um, got a pile of ralph here, and a pile of ralph there” He says to me still looking like he could hurl again at any moment. Apparently he had barfed all over the hallway in front of his room.
“I'll tell you what, you let your ralph dry up, and then you can get the vacuum cleaner in the morning” I say to him with a half awake smirk, and shaking my head up and down.
“Oh -hic-, good idea” He said stumbling back toward his room. I went back to bed, I had to be at work at 7AM and needed my beauty rest.

2:12 AM I am awakened by screaming, apparently someone stepped barefoot into our drunks puddle of ralph. A lot of profanity ensued but then it died down after a few minutes.

6AM I get up to go to work, I see our now hungover suffering bastard cleaning up his puddle of vomit. Apparently he was passed out in his room, and didn't hear his victim stepping into his mess.
No harm done, nobody punched, mess cleaned up, nothing to report.

Yes, there was a lot of drunkenness, and I remember on New Years Eve one fellow swinging outside of the second story barracks window in a make shift New Years baby diaper. He luckily didn't kill himself and provided a few minutes of “look at the jackass” entertainment. I had one friend who would be drunk every other day, and on a hangover on the rest. He used to stop by my room and play video games on my Commodore 64 computer. He would always offer some of his B&B or Drambuie and I actually grew to like the stuff after a while. That same friend had a wealthy family and when we both got orders to Europe, he offered to let me come along with him across the Atlantic. He was going to live on this small ship in Spain and planed to captain it himself. I don't know about you but I really didn't want to depend on a drunk to get me across the Atlantic ocean in a boat. I've often wondered if he made it, or if he ended up swimming with the fishes.

I had the honor of attending Non Commissioned Officer Leadership school at Minot AFB down the road also in North Dakota, in the middle of winter of course. In the Air Force there is a saying “Why not Minot? Freezen's the reason.” Corny yes, but it was a way of passing along that this wasn't a choice assignment. My school was 6 weeks of concentrated training on how to supervise, and handle subordinates. We had an inspection every morning, and we had to sort of march on the ice to the classroom. It didn't take long for me to be pegged as a funny man, and the instructor who couldn't pronounce my name dubbed me SSGT La La. Some of the material was pretty dry and I did my best to keep them entertained when I could. To tell you quite honestly it was one of the best experiences of my life.

Grand Forks wasn't all fun and games, and my job was deadly serious. Working around B-52 bombers loaded with nuclear cruise missiles meant having to go through checkpoints where if you forgot your password you ended up on the ground with your face in the snow with the barrel of an M-16 pointed at your head. You always performed work in pairs and if your partner started sabotaging the plane you were required to take them down with any force possible. Simply working around aircraft is hazardous, especially large ones. One of our bombers exploded, and burned to the ground with four people inside after an electrician pushed in a circuit breaker that had popped to a fuel tank boost pump. I remember going out to retrieve a portable radio out of the small pickup truck that had melted in front of the plane with a pair of tongs; a chard winter boot had been tossed into the bed of the toasted truck.

The cold war is now over, the nukes are gone, and the base no longer hosts a wing of strategic bombers. The base has a different mission now, serving as a squadron of in-flight refueling planes. In many ways I really miss my time at Grand Forks, I think the harsh weather and the semi remote location made everyone closer, but I don't think I would really want to live through those winters again. I still communicate with a few people I knew then in a group on Facebook. I keep looking for the drunk that sailed his boat across the Atlantic, maybe some day I will get a surprise and he'll turn up alive.

Monday, October 31, 2011


While sitting here listening to “I Ran” by A Flock Of Seagulls I was thinking about outer space, specifically outer space TV shows and movies. Over the years I've become quite a fan of letting myself get amerced in space dramas. Star Trek with it's military order, and all of that exploration. Star Wars with it's Good Force vs Dark Side bad Force theme. Like all good nerds my very favorite was Firefly that lasted for 14 episodes and a movie. It was like the space wild west with smuggling.

Ever since I first saw Han Solo I've loved the space smuggler, and often played one in space games. I've joined virtual smuggling gangs, and have lived out my space smuggler fantasies. We would work together to smuggle contraband through space patrolled by the police, the navy, and groups that weren't too happy with us supplying to people that they didn't like. All of the unimaginative smack talk, and the “HALTs” as I ran away from my pursuers with my load of embargoed contraband always gave me a terrific rush. I always talked to my pursuers when I could to give them complements on their piloting abilities, or ask them about their intimate relationships with Wookiees. This usually threw them off long enough to bust a smart move and land at a friendly base.

I have no doubt that aliens live among us, have you taken a good look at your neighbors lately? What is that strange panel in the front yard, and what is living in that pond on the other side of the berm? Baby aliens? Space chickens maybe? Does a space chicken cluck? Do they taste good with barbecue sauce? That's a silly question we all know everything tastes good with chard on barbecue sauce. And those things growing in your neighbor's front yard, are you sure they are zucchini, and not body snatching pods?

Of course a lot of what you see on a show like Star Trek is a little implausible, inter species mating with half this, and half that as offspring. I mean hell you don't see half cat, half dog combos running around.
“Meow, rar rar rar” Is what a Chihuahua / Maine Coon would sound like before it bit and scratched your ankle to shreds. Give it a space helmet and call it an alien, then send it out on a little space ship with a crew of Guinea Pigs. What would happen if the Borg tried to assimilate their ship?
"We are the Borg, you will be assimilated." and "We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own..."
The Borg scan their ship.
“Oh, um, never mind.”

Maybe there are places on earth filled with aliens, and maybe they have erected huge antennas like the Eiffel Tower, or the “Space” Needle to talk to their planets. Maybe they congregate on earth in hot spots like San Antonio with its Tower of the Americas. All of those places serve food that could be contaminated with mind control powder that makes you shake your head up and down when Glenn Beck talks. Maybe the ten gallon hat is really an antenna to relay messages to the mother ship! Maybe “YEEHA!” really means “We are the Borg resistance is futile.” It's just a theory, you never know.

Tonight I'm going to drink three beers and stick my thumb up in the air while wearing a towel on my head; maybe I can hitch a ride to a new world. I could just toddle around experiencing all of the wild things there are to see without the expense of an expensive spacecraft. I'll watch out for those damn Vogons, they might recite some poetry and I would be in real trouble. But I think if I drank enough beers I wouldn't really care, I hear Vogons like to sing drinking songs.

But if it weren't for the expense I would love to have a space ship. It would have to be able to visit other solar systems without taking a life time to get there. I'm not to worried about the Borg, alien probes, or Siths. The universe is unimaginably vast, completely amazing, and we are all bits of it. I can feel it coursing through me when I lay quietly in silence, even without wearing a ten gallon hat.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Treasure Hunt With a Map!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

Here is a short pictorial journey of a trip I took with my family a couple of years back through the Oregon Outback. It was a quest for the Steens Mountain, the Hart Mountain Hot Spring, and Plush sunstones.

Located between French Glen and Plush in the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge in south western Oregon the Hart Mountain Hot Spring is an oasis in the middle of nowhere, and a welcome refuge in the wilderness to wash off some of that desert dust. We spent a few days at the base of the Steens Mountains fairly close to Frenchglen, and were making the 80 mile trek across the desert to Plush, a so-called town that has a Store/Gas Station/Bar combo.
But Plush is no ordinary place, it's the last place for gas and supplies before embarking on the washboarded road to the sunstone mines. Sunstones can also be collected for free on Federally owned land managed by the BLM. Here is a treasure map so you can find your very own trinkets. We camped out in the desert and picked up stones for an entire day.
On the Steens Mountain road
On the Steens Mountain road
A dry lake bed
Hart Mountain Hot Spring pool
Hart Mountain Hot Spring
Hart Mountain Hot Spring pool
The desert can be beautiful
Entering the Refuge

An Antelope
The road down to Plush

The road down to Plush
A flat just as we hit pavement
Finally at the sunstones
The ground is full of them
My treasure

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rosemary Potato Soup

With Autumn in full swing, I thought I would share with you one of my favorite soups. This flavorful potato soup will warm you up on those chilly Fall evenings, and have you coming back for seconds.

Rosemary Potato Soup

12 strips of thick bacon
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, chopped
2 tbs of oil
¼ cup of flour
½ gallon of whole milk
6 russet potatoes, diced
2 tsp. Rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Cook bacon until crisp, break it up into small pieces, then set aside.
    • I usually cook bacon on medium heat with a lid. This helps the bacon cook uniformly, but you will need to keep an eye on it because it doesn't take long for bacon to go from crisp, to -setting the fire alarm off- burnt.
  • In the pot you're going to make the soup in saute the onions and garlic in your oil of choice.
    • You can use olive oil, but peanut oil works better for cooking, and is still heart healthy.
  • Add flour to the sauteed onions and garlic to make a rue.
  • Add potatoes, rosemary, milk, bacon to mixture.
  • Heat until potatoes are done while stirring frequently.
Yes, that is a lot of soup, you can cut the recipe in half or better yet, freeze small containers of the soup and enjoy it whenever you want.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Eggs, Drunken Birds, and Peeps, Oh My!

With owning chickens comes collecting eggs. Fresh eggs was one of the excuses that my wife gave me for springing the little pecking, clucking, escape artist surprise on me a few years back. With six chickens you we usually get three or four eggs per day. They have to be cleaned off, then packed away in the refrigerator. Now one thing I learned while working with assembly lines for many years is that you want to use your oldest stock first, in a production environment we call this First In First Out or FIFO. So in order to ensure we were using our stock of eggs properly I instituted a FIFO process by taking a marker and marking arrows on the top of the carton. Eggs come in one side and get taken out from the other side, this seemed to provide ample amusement for my wife. If I can't manage suppliers in Singapore anymore, then I damn well will manage the feathered suppliers that poop all over my back yard.
And speaking of birds, our Mountain Ash out front is starting to drop it's berries, and you know what that means? Drunk birds of course. Every year our Mountain Ash, also known as Rowan in the UK produces bright orange little berries. The berries get ripe, then they start to ferment on the tree. Flocks of Cedar Wax Wings swarm the tree, get drunk, and start hitting our windows. We have tried stickers of hawks on the windows, and all sorts of other things to try and make them stop breaking their drunken necks but nothing works. Our cats have started their own restaurant under the window. The other neighborhood cats show up at their reserved time, get seated, then wait for dinner to fall on their plates. I guess it's an efficient way of taking care of the suicidal little drunkards. But I would rather they joined a twelve step program.
This week I had my oldest son home for a couple of days with some sort of stomach virus. I took him in to see the doctor, she said he would live and off he went back to school the next day. It's really amazing how one child can throw off your whole day. It's hard enough trying to get things done without someone hanging around making comments about everything you do. I like to talk to myself when I'm researching or writing, and my son will pick up on whatever I just mumbled and make a song out of it.
"Um, alright, uh huh, that's interesting, uh, huh ,uh, huh" he will start singing. Talk about throwing your train of thought out of the window.
And this has been upgrade week, I turn on Ubuntu, and it wants me to upgrade from 11.04 to 11.10, I turn on iTunes and it wants me to upgrade my iPod to version 5, Windows is downloading a boat load of updates. Don't I have better things to do with my bandwidth than down load hours worth of updates? I don't see any real improvement, but I'm sure they are there. I can't tell any difference at all between iOS 4 and iOS 5. Maybe iOS5 contains Steve Job's consciousness.
Meanwhile on the home improvement front, I got the opportunity to replace our stove top that had one more burner finally give up the goat, so the taste of power tools is fresh. That taste got me working on plan. Even though I have a small two bedroom house, it has two garages. The space isn't being used efficiently, and I need another bedroom, a man cave, and more storage. So I drew up my master not so evil plan today. Oh the thought of shopping for more power tools, it just doesn't get better than that. Well, maybe shopping for more computer hardware would trump it. Which reminds me I'll have to wire my man cave workshop, so I can listen to tunes, and do research. I really need a little place to escape to.
Well I better get busy, and if you aren't able to read this right away because you are protesting "The man" on Wall street, or some other street around the world, then I forgive you.
"Power to the Peeps!"

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Firkroy Is Getting Into a Routine!

My transformation into the house frau is almost complete. With my spouse as a full time student it is now up to me to ensure that the household keeps running, the kids are fed, the homework is done, and that pigs don't start moving in to play monopoly. It's no easy task when you consider that we have two school age children, and a menagerie of pets.
I spent the entire evening for the past few days helping my oldest son -who is now in middle school- get caught up with his homework. Apparently when he came home last week and declared that he had no homework, or that it was done in ten minutes, he was sadly mistaken. Well the jigs up and it's not only sad for him, but it's also sad for me having to be the flame under his butt that helps him play catch up for the next few days. To his credit he understood the error in his ways, and spent the hours needed to keep him out of Saturday school for students that don't like to do homework.
The real saving grace in all of this is the fact that he has some very proactive teachers, and most of his assignments are on a web page that I can access. I can even print out an assignment if he somehow neglected to bring it home. I was up late last night answering email from my son's teachers, and took a short nap after the kids got off to school. Anyone who thinks our teachers don't work their asses off is smoking Wacky Tobaky. I was writing and getting answers to email messages from two of his teachers at 11:00 PM at night. I saw my oldest son's math teacher at the end of the next day, and she looked beat. I think a lot of parents of sixth graders are trying to dial in the school routine for their children. I can only hope that maybe, just maybe soon, some of my son's teachers will actually be able to have some sleep when the rest of my fellow parents of sixth grade students get a clue.
Building a routine from scratch can be a painful experience, but I'm a process guy. Or well I used to be when there was a manufacturing industry to speak of in this part of Oregon. Gone are the days when I managed repair departments, built assembly lines, and ran customer support departments. I used to develop systems for quickly turning around broken barcode scanners, and how to manage customer support issues with a high level of integrity. But now I create check lists for my son in hopes that he will remember to wear pants to school. Not that I think a middle schooler would be caught dead walking to school without pants, but I don't want him to be late.
After having to run back to school to get text books, and knocking on windows to get the attention of the school janitor, he started to understand this was not something he could let slide. We now go over a check list when I pick him up, leaving stuff at school is no excuse for not getting homework done, it just means he has to go back in and get it.
In between dropping off kids and picking them up from school I do glamorous things like grocery shopping. I started doing more frequent smaller trips verses a large grocery run once a week. I'm having a hard time with planning meals for the whole week at the moment; I'm not sure if I'm just being resistant to the new task, or maybe I have bigger things on my mind. I do enjoy thinking about what we should have today for dinner, and then going out to get the ingredients. My wife really doesn't care as long as she doesn't have to cook it. But if you get a large basket of Italian prunes from the Farmers Market don't be a glutton, because you will pay, and I'm not just talking about the price of that extra bottle of pink stuff you'll have to drink.
I've melded the dinner cooking with the homework schedule in a way that gives predictability to the children, and time for me to actually accomplish making the meal. My first child gets his "back from school down time," then I pick up the second child. The first one does homework while second is getting his down time, then dinner prep, dinner, then second one does homework.
Meatloaf was on the menu last night! Well actually two of them. If you make one large meat load it takes too long to cook, so I like to cook two smaller ones. I mix lean ground beef with ground turkey, then add sauteed onions and garlic, along with raisins , spices, and bread crumbs. And don't forget the Ketchup!
A meatloaf sandwich sound pretty good right about now doesn't it, but no Italian prunes on the side. I don't think I can take any more of them... Although they are pretty tasty hummmm...
Now some of you may have recalled that my neighbor Daryl a few months back was distressed. He was walking up and down our street in agony after a doctor fresh out of vasectomy school botched the job, and left Daryl with a grapefruit sized scrotum. Now, when I was in the Air Force they used to scare new recruits by telling them that the inoculation they were about to receive would be administered by getting a square needle in the left nut. Well guess what, that treatment cured Daryl!
After receiving the square needle in the left nut treatment Daryl hung up the sweat pants and started wearing jeans again. Gone are the days where he wanders the streets thinking "will I ever ride my 10 speed again?"
Have a good one everyone, and watch out for Daryl, he rides that 10 speed like a maniac!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Firkroy Has an Aching Back!

Yes, it's nice to receive something free, but does it really have to hurt so much?
My wife is in the other room on the phone when I hear “We got it! Yaaa Hooo!” We were the first ones to respond to a message that was put out to the parents of my son's social group for autistic kids. Long story short, the organization owned the large wooden play structure, but it had been used by a family who lived on top of a steep hill behind an automated gate. I thought it was a strange arrangement but I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.
I called the woman that lived in the house on the hill, and after a brief conversation she told me that she would text me the phone number of her nanny, so I could make arrangements with her to get in the gate. She is a doctor, and texting is her preferred way of communicating.
Now I may be Mr. Technology, but I really don't like texting, and being constantly tethered to something like a smart phone is not my idea of a good time. I had a Crackberry when I was on the road selling processors and diodes to most of the state, and it made sense for me to be able to see my email on the road, or to be able to find directions to a factory. But most people don't really need these things, and I'm constantly getting stuck behind some jackass staring at his wiener poking away at his gizmo as the light turns green.
A well placed “HONK!” usually gets him rolling, but I really think smart phones are the worst things that have happened to traffic in recent history. I use a $10 Virgin mobile phone that can painfully spit out a text if I really have to, but it's small and makes clear calls.
For two days I wait for the text message from the lady on the hill that never came. Finally I decide to use my cheap ass phone to send her a text message. “7777” gets me an S, “666” an O, this is just painful. I finally get the message out, and she finally responds back to me with the phone number of her nanny.
I contact the nanny, then go out to the house on the agreed upon date. The nanny let's me in the gate after a buzz at the intercom, and I maneuver down a narrow winding driveway with a drop off on one side, and stuff to run into on the other.
“Backing into this place with a trailer is going to be a nightmare” I think to myself.
But it's what has to be done, and “No guts, No glory” has always been my motto. The play structure was old, a little rotten where it had touched the ground, but I decide I could just make it a few inches shorter and it will be OK, so I decide it's worth the effort. I then made arrangements to come back the next Monday to start work.
Monday rolls around, and I drive out with the my old trailer that's made from half a Toyota pickup in tow. I have to drive into the wrong lane in order to back the trailer into the driveway entrance, but I manage to do it without getting killed. I get out of the car and hit the intercom buzzer. Then I wait, and wait, and wait. I then hit the buzzer again, and wait. Finally a man's voice says “yeah.”
“Hello” I say cheerfully, “I'm here to start taking away the play structure.”
“Oh, OK” the voice says as the gate starts to swing open. Backing my Blazer down that driveway was a real nightmare, with the drop off, the turns, and shrubs in pots on the other side, I really had to put my skills to the test. The man of the house was standing by the garage, a tall man that looked as if he had spent some quality time at the gym pumping iron. He watched me back up with a little concern, but once I stopped, he introduced himself, we shook hands, and he headed back into the house.
I had hoped that Mr. “Arnold wanna be” might have helped me with the dismantling of the kid castle, but it wasn't in the cards. I got to work wrenching off nuts, and loading seventy pound wooden chunks into the trailer. After a few hours I was sweaty, dirty, and experiencing new aches and pains, but I had managed to load the trailer, and made arrangements to return the next day.
I started driving down the hill, and across town looking like Jethro Bodine; a soak in a cement pond sounds good right about now. Everything was strapped down with bungees, and I'm sure I violated some sort of laws by having things stick out all over the place, but luckily no officers of the law were interested today.
The next day I once again arrive at the house on the hill. I back into the driveway entrance out of traffic, and hit the buzzer. I wait, and wait, and wait, buzz again, and wait... no answer. I resort to (yuck) texting the doctor again, “222” for C, “33” for E. It just sucked texting this lady. No reply, so I just sat there.
About ten minutes later a different lady arrives, this time it's the maid. She asked how long I had been waiting, and I pleasantly told her about ten minutes, and it was no big deal. She lets me in, and I slowly back the trailer down the trail of death once again.
It had been raining the night before so this time it was muddy around the play structure. When I got a chunk detached, I would make my way up the slipper wet grass and run it through the garage to the trailer. But today it seemed like the maid was adding obstacles. There were two open buckets of what appeared to be paint thinner that I had to tip toe around, bicycles that hadn't been ridden very much, and all sorts of things that could get bumped and fall down.
I worked for hours, and was starting to imagine driving away from this house of pain, and never coming back. A slim smile was coming over my face when with about fifteen minutes worth of work left, the sprinkler system came on.
“What the hell, you've got to be shitting me.” I say to my self.
I'm muddy, sore, skinned up, this was just icing on the cake. Do you think they could have at least turned off the (insert favorite profanity) sprinklers while I was out there? I guess not.
Well, I've only got to do a few trips through the sprinklers, so I trudge through getting a few nice cold showers lugging up the last pieces; at least some of the mud got washed off. With my mission accomplished I strap down my chunks, and do another Jethro back home with my final load.
I get a text from the doctor at about 7PM saying “she thought you were coming at 10”
I wasn't sure who she was, but I poked at my $10 phone, and thanked her.
Sometimes the things that you have to do are hard, but the satisfaction of knowing my kids will get years of enjoyment from this play structure (after I fix it, and put it back together) was well worth getting hit with the lawn sprinklers, and trudging through mud.
Yesterday we headed out to a farm, and I lugged two fifty pound pumpkins into the minivan for my kids, I guess I must really love the little stinkers. And who knows if I keep lifting heavy crap maybe I too will start looking like Arnold.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Firkroy Is Dealing With Those Firken Chickens Again!

My allergies are acting up, and I think I'm starting to imagine things.
Today was a three cupper, well maybe a five or a sixer if you count the cups of Earl Grey I made after the coffee pot was drained. I love to to take the tea bag and put it against my nose, then breath in the aroma before dunking it in a microwaved cup of water. The smell alone invigorates my morning; Jean-Luc Picard would be proud.
You've probably heard about a lot of great things about Oregon, but what you may not know is that the Willamette Valley is allergy central. With all of the greenery comes pollen of every sort, and mold spores to boot. My allergies have been acting up, and I'm not happy about it. My best friends right now are antihistamines, and a plastic bottle. It squirts salt and baking soda water up the nose that will soon be enjoying an Earl Grey embrace.
The house is empty, and I'm going about my domestic duties. I need to run to the store later so I can get the ingredients for turkey chili, and corn bread for tomorrow, “Mm mm mm.” But tonight we are having chicken in a crock pot. But as I'm tossing in a few more onions into the pot, and a cup of white wine, what do I hear? Chicken noises coming from the front yard? Are the ghosts of chickens past coming to haunt me for roasting up yet another of their brethren?
Nope, one of our chickens escaped from their gulag, and found its way into the front yard.
With some strategic gate opening, and herding of the dumb cluck, I manage to at least get it into the back yard. If plucking wasn't such a hassle I would have herded it onto the gas grill, and given it a bath with a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce. But if I had done that I would have been branded a pet murderer, and family harmony trumps finger licking good every time.
Meanwhile back at the Firkroy command center, I'm working on my media empire. Spending time adding content to Google plus, and adding more people into Twitter. One of my goals is to have everything pointing at each other. My blog, Twitter, BrooWaha, and Google plus all working in harmony, like some sort of the digital circle of life. My Facebook account is the red headed step child, and isn't getting any love; I'm only using it to check on relatives from time to time to see if I need to attend a funeral.
Facebook still calls to me though, “Come and play Farkle Firkroy.”
“No you evil voice, go away.” I think to myself.
But it persists, “Uncle Del just scored 22,243 points! He's whooping your butt, you better come play.”
“No, no, back un-clean one! Do you see this? Yeah, that's right GARLIC, and I'm not afraid to use it.”
I come out of my daydream, and find I have the garlic powder shaker in my left hand ready to douse my laptop. I quickly grab my left wrist with my right hand and jerk it away, just in the nick of time.
It's funny how people who deal with technology start to look at certain institutions as villains, and others as their buddies. Facebook, Microsoft, and HP are on my stinker list right now. Microsoft has been on my “PU” list ever since they tried to take over the world in the 90s. I will have to admit that Bill Gates has been really trying to make a positive difference in the world lately, but his successor Lord Ballmermort is another story. When I see the current Microsoft CEO -Steve Ballmer- I see an uncanny resemblance to “He who shall not be named.”
“Doh!” Now I'm screwed, I named him, Steve Ballmer that is, and his VPs are going to swoop in on their Segeways, and start shooting me with their Windows 8 wands, and I'll have to use my magic Google Chrome shield to protect me.
“Curse you Lord Ballmermort you, you, screaming Cue Ball!” I yell, pointing my papermate wand into the air.
I've really got to stop this day dreaming nonsense. I blame it on allergies, I think all of those little white pills are making me loopy.
I think I'll go and check on that chicken that's cooking in the crock pot, I think it needs more wine.

Firkroy is Stayin' Alive, Stayin' Alive!

Firkroy is hitting the path, and getting things moving.
Part of the “Keeping me alive program,” along with eating bowls of oatmeal in the morning, and not eating big chunks of cow, is bike riding. With the kids in school, I now have more flexibility with my time during the day. I ride my bike with my older son to his school, and then continue on for a thirteen mile trip along the Willamette river, on the bike paths of Eugene.
It's a pleasant ride along the river, groups of elderly people can be seen walking along the path, as well as bike commuters, hobos, and falling leaves. There are also people selling hand made jewelry laid out on blankets in the grass as I ride by, community gardens, parks, and that big “O” on Autzen stadium. I slow down as I go through the delta ponds, a small wildlife refuge with Western Pond Turtles that like to sit atop logs, beached on little islands in the middle of the water. There's also a beaver dam with ducks bobbing up and down trying to get at whatever is beneath the ripples. The Oregon State Beavers and Oregon Ducks may have a contentious rivalry on the gridiron, but in this pond beavers and ducks are in harmony.
I have a Fuji cross bike that I've had for several years, and I've made a few modifications to it. I've added fenders, changed the peddles, and replace the seat post. All in the name of making my bike fit me just a little bit better. My wife gave me a pair of black mountain bike pants, and later, a matching black long sleeve bicycle shirt. Mountain bike pant look more like regular shorts than Tour de Pants bicycle pants, which is good because I'm not ready to look like a ballet dancer wearing tights. I look a little more like Darth Vader, and if I added a cape and helmet, I could practice using “The Force” as I'm riding along. I could pick up and move whole groups of strolling old ladies out of the way, or I could part clouds of hobo cigarette smoke like the Red Sea, with a wave of my hand. Oh so many possibilities, but alas I can only use “The Force” for good.
Other bike paths in the area have less traffic, and you can find big packs of the Tour de Pants riders clad in their colorful advertisement laden bicycle gear. Just don't get in their way, they would rather run over babies than break formation. They're getting in shape for the Tour de France so watch out... Most won't even make the Tour de Springfield, but I suppose they can have their fantasy.
Upon arriving at home after my commune with two wheels and nature, It's time to go to work. I've ramped up my eBay sales, and like a Ferengi searching for a profit, I've been sniffing around for things for sale that I can pick up cheap, and then resell on eBay or Craigslist. Sales as a profession is hard to do correctly, but the challenge can be rewarding. But, selling to some of the people on eBay is anything but rewarding; some of them are real pieces of work. I've had a few people who didn't pay after winning my auctions, and I've had to go through the process of getting my selling fees back from eBay on more than one occasion, after buyers renege on their end of a deal. About six years ago I had one individual click on a “Buy it” button on a Vespa like scooter I was selling, he then turned around and give me negative feedback because he was confused by how the system worked. I had a not so pleasant conversation on the phone with this Ding Dong, and it wasn't pretty. As a result, I try and avoid selling anything a dumb person might want. I have a low tolerance for financial dealing with idiots; if only someone would invent the IQ filter. Craigslist is a little better, but sometimes I ignore email replies that I know are from people that I don't want to deal with, or Spammers.
And we all know what we would do to Spammers if we could just get our hands on them around here, “spit.”
Here lately, I've been getting the itch to throw some pots; I'm a potter amongst other things, and the kids have reeked havoc on the dishes that I made years ago. But first I have a bedroom to add for my oldest son, and more house painting to do. I've forgotten what boredom feels like a long time ago, and I have a feeling It may have something to do with that little voice in the back of my head, coming from my spouse with her honey do list in one hand, and a cattle prod in the other. But it's just a hunch.
The zucchini that I purchased last week was made into zucchini bread! Oh the splendid aroma of zucchini bread, with a chunk of melting butter running all over it. “Mmmmmmm.” Oh, if only I had more zucchini, then maybe we could make more of that wonderful nutty bread.
But Wait! Maybe Daryl from from across the street has more zucchini he wants to unload...
Run run run, “Knock Knock Knock,” on Daryl's door.
“Anyone home? Yooouuu Hoooooo!”
“I'll help you with more of those zucchini Daryl!”
“I see you hiding behind that curtain!”
“Open up! I need more zucchini!”
“Come on, be a pal!... Buddy?...”

In This Corner... Firkroy!

It's Firkroy vs Hackers. Now go to your corners and come out fighting…ding, ding, ding!
One of my laptops started barking out “Warning, Warning Will Robinson!” at least that's what it felt like when the Microsoft Security Essentials popped up the first bubble that said I had a threat. I clicked on the resolve the issue button, but of course a few moments later it popped up yet again. Like a dog scratching off a flea I may have picked off one, but there are a hundred more hiding between the hairs.
So I resign to going through the drill by updating my free malware elimination software (Malwarebytes, and SuperAantispyware), then I re-booted the laptop in safe mode, I then ran a full scan with the first one with not even a burp, then they appear, 547 bad nasties detected! So after over an hour of scanning, and using the digital equivalent to a Raid bug bomb on them, I do another complete scan this time with the other checker, and find nothing wrong. I'm now safe to re-boot my laptop, and use it.
If hackers would keep their bad behavior targeted on big corporations I wouldn't mind them so much because they would be helping to keep hard working IT people employed on a regular basis, but these ass wipes pick on everyday people.
“What kind of punishment should they be subjected to?” I think to myself.
“Hummm, let me see:”
  • Death by hanging? No, too quick.
  • Death by Guillotine? Again, too damn quick for those bastards.
  • The electric chair? Now that would be entertainment! Maybe cook some eggs on their foreheads as they fry.
Here is my list of more creative ways of killing perpetrators of malware:
  • Being kicked in the nads by their victims to death! But only after being force fed a bottle of cheap Viagra purchased from a spammer. Then the victims get to repeatedly kick the Viagra spammer.
  • Being turned over to 1000 jocks for wedgies until dead. Then hung from a school flag pole.
  • Made to watch replays of Notre Dame making touch downs until dead. Actually making them watch any kind of football on TV would probably kill them.
  • Made to give Tech. Support to hillbillies until dead. That's just mean.
  • Made to stand in sunlight until dead, I think it would only take 10 minutes tops. I don't think they go outside much so they would quickly become a pile of ash, like a vampire hitting sunlight.
  • Deprivation of all Sci-Fi involving space ships until dead. (that one might even kill me)
  • Take away their computer for life... then they would kill themselves.
The nad kicking event sounds like a real money making opportunity, and I could sell tickets. Now how to get the word out without spamming, hummmm.
Now I can understand the interest in cracking a code, breaking into something that is supposed to be secure, and there are groups of hackers that are actually helpful, and help organizations find vulnerabilities in their systems. But most of the time, malware is created by criminals; the type of people who want to steal your personal information, your habits on the Internet, your credit card numbers, or any other nefarious thing this bunch of bastards think up to rob, or make money off of you.
If you haven't figured it out by now, the criminals sort of piss me off. Yes they have given me plenty to write about, and lots of opportunities to help people solve their problems, but I would much rather not have to deal with these jerks.
One way you can limit the damage these punks can do to you is to not use Windows. You can go and go out and buy a MAC, and that can be a bit spendy if your on a limited income, or you can check out the latest version of Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a completely free Linux operating system that I highly recommend. The computer I'm using right now is completely running on Ubuntu 11.04 Linux, but you can download a CD image, and try it on your own computer without making any changes to it at all. You download the CD image, burn it to a CD, then boot your computer from that CD to try it. It can also be installed to work side by side with your windows installation. I've tried many versions of Linus over the years and this is the first time I can actually say that I like a Linux installation over Windows.
On a completely different subject, and to those of you who read Firkroy's Revenge regularly. I did the grocery shopping this week, and guess what was on the list... zucchini. I had to buy six of them at the grocery store. Sigh, now I wish I hadn't hid from Daryl last week when he was going door to door unloading them. They were pretty cheap at the store, so I guess they was trying to unload them too.
Monday is kick a malware punk in the nads day, so get busy!

Firkroy is Thinking About a Big Bang! And the Annihilator.

This week started off with a BANG! And ended with a SQUASH!

Tuesday is garbage day, the day I put all of the bins by the curb. The drivers of the lumbering trash trucks don't like getting out of their cabs to pick up refuse, they simply drive up, and a mechanical arm grabs the plastic bin and Whoooosh, away goes the trash. It would be nice if once in a while they would closed the bin lids that stay open after a dump, but nope, it's on to the next house.

The night before trash day I routinely move my SUV, and place the plastic containers out on the curb where I was parked. But I was sloppy this week, and I parked my Blazer semi sideways behind our minivan. A poor parking job indeed, but it's my driveway, and I can park all wonkey if I feel like it... That was mistake number one.

The next day I see people rummaging through my recycle bins before the trucks show up to collect cans and bottles that they can turn in for a nickel a piece. No big deal, times are tough, and they are at least showing some initiative; I go back to reading the paper. My wife says she's bringing my son's friend back home after a sleep over. I wave as I sip my morning brew, and go back to reading Dilbert. Wally is being his usual malingering self when all of the sudden there is a big “BANG!”

“What the hell!” I say jumping from my chair and heading outside.
Oh no! My wife who thinks the gas peddle is an on/off switch has run the minivan into my cockeyed parked SUV.... That was mistake number two.

If your going to run into something with your car you may as well run into another one of your own vehicles, it's less messy that way, and your insurance premiums won't go up.

I assess the damage, and it doesn't look too bad as I pick tail light chunks out of the Blazer's molding.

“Sigh, no big deal. This should only cost about $50 to replace the tail light lens” I tell my wife.

She apologizes for crunching our rides. She said the backup obstacle alarm was going off but it was too late.
“Back up the Enterprise Mr. Sulu, warp nine!”
“Ay Captain.”
I think to myself.

I call the Hyundai dealer's parts department. “Ay Carumba!” The new lens cost $225!

The tail light lens is part of the tail light assembly, and you have to buy the whole thing! What a racket, “Sigh.”

I reluctantly pull my credit card out of my wallet. “Yes I will be paying for it with Visa, yes overnight it, the expiration date is...”

It took me a whole 5 minutes to replace the lens assembly.

It's time for breakfast, and 98% of the time I have oatmeal for breakfast, with blueberries, walnuts, and other assorted super foods to help keep me alive. Yes, I know oatmeal conjures up some horrific thoughts (and only God knows why) of Hannibal Lechter in some people. But oatmeal is good stuff, but my mind wanders off, and I start thinking of doughnuts, Voodoo doughnuts.

A thought bubble appears above my head. Ah the Voodoo maple and bacon bar, oh how I would rather have you than oatmeal. My mind starts to wander, they make a doughnut shaped like a joint called the Maple Blazer Blunt, with maple frosting, and red sprinkle ember.

“It must be for stoners that have the munchies.” I think to myself.

Then I think about the Old Dirty Bastard doughnut with chocolate frosting, Oreo’s, and peanut butter that never really appealed to me. And what kind of pervert at Voodoo developed the Bavarian cream shaped like a Willy called the bleep-N-bleep with bite me written across it.

“POP” goes my thought bubble... let's go on to another subject.

Coffee! Dutch Brothers makes my favorite on the road coffee called the Kicker with 3 different espresso beans, Irish Cream, and the secret “Kick Me Mix.” They also make the Annihilator which is the same as the Kicker but with Chocolate Macadamia Nut instead of Irish Cream. Some of the Dutch Brothers baristas are packing, and recently one of their baristas in Eugene shot and killed a would be robber, dead as a door nail. A little severe but that'll teach that bastard not to mess with our coffee providers.

Speaking of injury by weapon, later in the week I tried to cut my thumb off chopping sweet potatoes to make sweet potato, and black been burritos. I need to slice a body part about every ten years to remind me that knives are sharp.

OK after crunching up my cars, chopping up my thumb, and paying that outlandish price for a stupid tail light lens, it was time for a beer. My favorite local Eugene brew comes from Steelhead Brewery in Eugene, they make a fine porter called French Pete that is dark brown, creamy, and is all malty and smooth. But if you like beer that makes you pucker, then you must try a Hopasaurus Rex. Billed as “the king of Imperial India Pale Ales, and is extra bitter!”

You have to have some serious nads to drink that sort of thing. The thought of a Hopasaurus makes my tongue cringe, and I start getting a headache.

Another of my favorites beer joints is McMenamins. Now for an authentic stout you would have to travel to Ireland and get a real Irish Guinness. The Irish hoard the good stuff to themselves, and they don't let it leave the country. But if you can't afford a trip to Ireland for a stout, then a McMenamins Terminator is my favorite choice, and it's cool because it's called Terminator. Hasta la vista baby.

Now you may be thinking, what kind of people are these crazy lunatics that name their drinks Terminator, Annihihlator, Hopasaurus Rex , and shoot would be coffee hut robbers deader than that racoon on Donald Trump's head? Well that's a good question, and I would tell you but, it's a secret.

Looking across the street I see my neighbor Darryl picking a bag of zucchini. He has 11,373 zucchini squash in his front yard, and what? He's headed this way, he's giving away zucchini!

I'm closing curtains, and pretending I'm not home.

“Shhhhhhhhhhh!” I'm hiding.