Friday, March 30, 2007

Another little musical interlude.

Ok, here's a great double shot from 1978, my junior year in high school. I wore the hell out of both of these on the 8-track in the old AMC Hornet. It even looks like they filmed this first one in a high school somewhere. The guitar player and keyboard player both cut their teeth playin' for Carlos Santana, so the band had great DNA. I saw them when their tour came through town that year. They had two lead up bands that night. The first was called New England; a one hit wonder thing that played for 30 minutes that I've forgotten all about. Second lead up band was a little group that none of us had ever heard of called AC~DC!

Yep, it was their first tour of the states, playin' with their original singer, who was soon to expire. They did 30 minutes of mind blowin' shit, including an extended guitar solo while the singer carried the guitar player on his shoulders in a lap around the floor of the auditorium. We didn't know who the hell they were, but by the time they were done we were all spent. Then Journey came out and did an hour and we walked away feeling like we'd really seen somethin'.

It may not look like it here, but Journey rocked their asses off. Sadly, the singer took greater and greater artistic control over things as time when by and they eventually turned into a silly pop band. These two tracks were set up just this way on the album, the second and third cuts, and radio stations began playing the two songs back to back, just as they are played here. Loved the shit outa this at the time, and after listenin' to it again, I may have to download it and wear it out again. Enjoy.

And here's an even better band from '78. I also went to the concert in Ft. Worth from this tour. What a time, never to be had again. Boston was the ultimate late 70s guitar band, and their first two records still sound amazing to me. The best cut on this album is actually "A Man I'll Never Be", but I couldn't find a video of that one with decent sound, so here's the title cut from the second album. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Another little musical interlude.

I always wondered if there was a real story behind this tune. I guess there was. Live in New York in 1973. They just don't make kick ass music like this any more. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I've got a mission.

Talked to my neighbor the other day. He's a grizzled old vet, Korea and Nam, in a wheel chair from some sort of crud that he picked up after getting out (maybe). Conversation on a recent gun show moved to old times, and he tells me that he's still got the knife he used on the first man he ever killed, in Korea. Ran into a North Korean in the middle of the night. One walked away. I ask him if the bayonet was on the end of his rifle at the time and he says "Nope". Cool! Tells me he's got the knife but no sheath. I tell him they are easy to find. He asks me to see if I can find one. His wife brings the thing out wrapped in foam, secured with tape. Hands it to me like an old religious icon. I take it out of the foam and check it out. Dig it.

Typical M-4 bayonet, manufactured by Pal Cutlery some time during WW2 or Korea. Someone really fucked up the cutting edge, but maybe that's what soldiers do in war, sharpening the standard issue stuff that probably arrives blunt as hell. I dunno. All I know is what he's told me. Would LOVE to get the thing tested to see if there's still any Korean DNA on it. Seriously, it looks like something some stupid kid picked up at a dime store and tried to sharpen with a brick.
Started looking on the web today, sites I know about, and found one place that had the right sort of sheath, but they were out of stock. I'll keep lookin'. I'm on a mission.
Update: Found the sheath online and ordered it. It'll be here in a week or so. Can't wait to go over and hand it all back to him. Fun.

Another little musical interlude.

Something from Austin City Limits, 2001. Some home town boys jammin'. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ok, this beats the hell out of that scene in When Harry Met Sally, hands down.

I always wondered about why those bike seats were shaped like that. They're not exactly designed for a mans anatomy. Turns out, there IS a function to the thing after all.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Hows about a little rock and roll PT on the weekend.

If yer head don't start bangin' on that one... Ya probably need a bit more medication. Pat Travers was HUGE when I was in high school in the late 70s. Ya never hear about him any more, but he lives on. Here's another called "Steivie", in case you dig it.

Gettin' myself psyched up to see ZZ Top tonight at the Bell County Expo center. I'm Purposely not listening to ZZ before I go. Should be fun. I'll tell ya how it went later.

Update: Well, that was a good time. They had a lead up band, another power trio, but they were nothing to write home about. One day maybe, if they mature, and get a better sound guy. These dudes played for about 25 minutes, and then there was a 10 minute interlude/smoke break, so that ZZs gear could be set up. The boys came out to the cheers of the crowd, and played their asses off for about an hour and twenty minutes. Too many hits and great lesser known tunes to list here. Some of the favorites were Waitin' For The Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago, Beer drinkers and Hell Raisers, Just Got Paid, I'm bad - I'm Nationwide, Cheap sunglasses, Fool For Your Stockings, Pearl Necklace, Got me Under Pressure, Sharp Dressed Man, Legs, and even a new sounding remake of Viva Las Vegas. They walked off for a little break, and then came back and did a 20 minute medley of La Greange and Tush, with some free flowing jams tucked in there for good measure. It was a great night.

The crowd favorites were Jesus Just Left Chicago, Pearl Necklace, Sharp dressed Man (for which they donned their traditional white furry guitars), and finally the La Grange/Tush medley. After everything let go, it took us about 30 minutes to get out of the parking lot. What a cluster fuck! Then it was green lights all the way home. There were a few tunes I wished they'd have played, like Blue Jean Blues, but I can't complain. For a $40 ticket, I think I got the best show I could hope for. I thought I caught a whiff of something illicit once, but it was probably some woman's perfume. Lots of beer was sold inside the dome, which may go to explain why it took so long for everyone to get out of the parking lot. Anyway, it was a great time. If they come by your area, I'd advise you to pony up the change and see them. They play better than most of the crap that passes for rock and roll music these days, and that's a fact.

Here's alittle taste, from a 2003 concert.

He used that same guitar this evening, among others.

Checkin' my home page, I found an interesting little bit of slander; an article by a history prof and huge fan of U.S. v. Miller (1939).

Go here and read his article. He thinks that the new Parker decision is bad law, and that it unjustifiably overturns 70 years of legal doctrine viewing the second amendment protections as a collective right, asserting in stead that it is an individual right. I welcome you to register over at the History News Network and leave a few comments. I did.

I won't belabour you with the whole comment stream. You can look at it and read it for yourself. By the time I got there, several pro gun types (were everywhere) had left critical comments. One defender of the author then chimed in, saying that it's silly to assert that the framers wanted people to be armed so that they would be able to defend themselves against their own government.

He's commenting on a previous commenter's point, that without an armed citizenry, "...there is no counterweight to Federal military might." He responds...

Yes there is. It's called the Congress's power to declare war and fund and raise and army versus the president as commander in chief. Read your Constitution.

The 2nd Amendment is there because Americans had traditionally feared standing armies, meaning the British army. Thus the basis of our national defense was the militia. It has nothing to do with being a counter to the federal government.

And then I chime in...

"Please, the congress WAS the national government in the 1790s when the bill was drafted. The executive was a glorified clerk, and congress was our parliament, and we had just fought a long and very bloody war against a parliament. The people of the states had been able to do that because they were armed. In the light of this, it seems obvious that the founders understood this to be a basic right of any free people. How could they use arms to overthrow a government and then assert that only a branch of government, a national army (made up of state militias), should be allowed to bear arms? They wanted to be able to retain the ability in their local settings, to protect themselves from the possible (they believed probable) misuse of government power, as well as desiring the right to defend themselves in a nation with NO POLICE OR STANDING ARMY. Why is it so hard to understand? People today who own guns, including assault rifles, don't see themselves as a problem. The problem is Liberal lawyers and gun control advocates who read the exact same words ("The right of the people")in the first, second and fourth amendments, and magically decide that in the one case of the second amendment, the words weren't meant to protect the rights of individual people. That's very convenient logic, if your desire is to empower the national government and restrict peoples rights."

So what do you think about all this.? You know I'm a gun nut, but I have an open mind. Can you find a way to convince me that I should turn in my Kalashnikovs? I dare ya. I double dare ya. I tripple dog dare ya.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Alright dammit, this is top secret family shit, so take notes. This tape will self distruct in 5 minutes.

First Mr Phelps, lets talk chicken. Buy whatever pieces you like to eat. I'm partial to dark meat (don't go there). Whatever you get should be skinless. Bones are Ok, but they sell boneless, skinless pieces now (breasts and thighs) and those are a lot more convenient to eat.

Yer gonna marinade these pieces over night in the fridge. Mom's traditional recipe calls for washing the pieces and then salting them down generously. She can't say how much. It's one of those trial and error things where she learned from her mom, who learned from her mom. Salt it down good and leave it in the fridge over night. Personally, I think you could exchange the salt for any sort of strong seasoning that you like. I've marinated the stuff in Italian dressing or BBQ sauce, and I think it was pretty good. Just not the same as moms. Another thing, use kosher salt rather than the stuff we all grew up with. It has a much better flavor, and you won't have to use as much.

When the time comes to cook it, you'll need a can of condensed milk, a few eggs, more seasoning, and a pan of flour. You mix a few egg yokes into the milk in a dish (not the white, but the yoke only), and season the flour with pepper and whatever else you like (Mom puts more salt). Heat up your oil to a pretty high level. If the oil isn't hot enough the chicken will take forever to cook and impart an oily taste to the food.

When I was growing up, mom used to cook everything in a skillet. When they started coming out with these little Fry Daddies, she fell in love with them. She's tried big industrial looking fryers with baskets that you dip down into the oil, but she says these little things work the best. They prevent you from putting too many pieces in the oil at once, which apparently leads to an oily taste in the food. Takes too much heat out of the oil when you put them in and forces you to leave the pieces in the oil longer, or somethin'.

Now here's the serious shit: Take a piece of chicken out of the marinade (DO NOT wash off the marinade), dip it in the flour and give it a decent covering. Shake off the excess, and then dip it into the whipped milk/egg mixture. Now, dip it back in the flour and press it in, giving it a good covering. You can see in the shot above that she leaves the pieces in the flour till they are ready to fry. Fry them till they are golden brown, and then take them out, lay them on a paper towel and let them cool a bit. When you bite into this stuff, I swear to God, if you've done it right, you'll experience something akin to nirvana. The Buddha himself would have got his ass up and taken on a carnivorous nature if his momma had known how to cook this stuff. He'd a put on some real pounds then. If you do it right, you'll end up with somethin' like this.

Ok, now for the ice cream. Here's the ingredients: 9 - 10 eggs, whipped in a blender, 2 quarts of half and half, 1 or 2 cans of Eagle Brand sweetened milk, 1 large box of instant vanilla Jello pudding, 1 large box of peach or strawberry Jello (depending on what sort of ice cream you're making), fruit pieces (peaches or strawberries, or whatever other ingredients you want), cut up and whipped in the blender. This part is up to you. If you want to have big pieces of fruit in the ice cream, then don't whip it as thoroughly. Finally, add 1 cup of sugar. Sweeten it to taste. Up to you.

Ok, mix most of this stuff in the blender, adding the fruit a little at a time until it's liquefied. Add the sweetened milk with regular milk to fill the blender (half at a time). Once it's liquefied, empty it into a mixing bowl and begin again. Make enough to fill your ice cream maker to about two inches from the top. It'll expand a bit in the freezing process.

Pour the mixture into the ice cream container, place it in the bucket, making sure it sits properly on the little spindle at the bottom of the bucket. Attach the lid and the motor, and start filling the bucket with ice and rock salt. You want to make sure you don't let the salty runoff from this process get into the ice cream. THAT shit will ruin your day. Most if not all the buckets have a hole to allow only a certain water level to prevent this, but you can still accidentally get some salt on the top of the ice cream if you open the can prematurely. So be careful. Run the ice cream maker till it stops turning on its own.

If you have a cheap machine, you might experience a problem with the ice cream next to the side of the can freezing and stopping the paddles, stripping the gears of the machine. In this case, the machine never stops. While the ice cream next to the ice freezes, the mixture on the inside never does. If that happens, you're not totally screwed. You can take the paddles out and scrape the frozen ice cream into the mixture and start again. Been through that a few times. That shit will also ruin your day, so don't scrimp on the machine. You get what you pay for.

When the machine stops, unplug the motor and take it off , being careful not to let the lid of the ice cream can come off in the process. Reach unto the ice on both sides of the can and pull the can up a bit to allow ice to fall in under it. Then wipe off the lid before you open it to prevent salt from getting into the ice cream. The can will sit there on its own, and you can pop the top and enjoy the "fruits" of your labour.

Mom and I hope you all do well and enjoy the goods. I hope we've given you the info you need to join my family in the long standing traditions of obesity, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Seriously though, what the fuck. Life is to be lived! Ya gotta die of something. I plan to go with a thigh in one hand a maybe a leg in the other, If ya know what I mean. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Started a new semester yesterday, after a good week off and a very pleasant weekend.

I started four new classes on base this week, as well as a new online class. I've got about 45 people in each of my lunchtime history classes (11:30-12:30 and 12:30-1:30 every day), with more wanting in them every day, and I've got about 30 to 35 people in each of the two government classes in the evening (7:30 to 10pm M/W and T/Th). A lot of the folks in my lunchtime classes took the other half of the history last time and are back again. It was like old home week when I walked in the first day. Lots of laughs. Most of my students are soldiers or retired soldiers or family/dependants. The online class has only 17 people in it, but it might grow. I'll be working on that one this week, trying to come up with new exams. I may eventually use those new exams in the conventional classes too. Spring them on the folks in the evening classes on base. I LOVE test day!

Anyway, this last Spring Break was a great time off. It started with two nights and good times at Sweetwater.

That was a great trip, with great friends and lots of great food.

Then on Wednesday, I took a trip to Ft. Worth to spend the day and have dinner with some other, older friends. I've known this guy for about 20 years, and his wife since they got together about 15 years ago.

We've been on a dozen or so hiking and/or canoe trips, and these are the folks I rafted the Colorado with in 03 and 05. Click on the link over at FlickR to check out more of those shots.

The week was rounded off with a fabulous Sunday, beginning with a trip in the morning to Austin to walk through a gun show (resulting in the acquisition of a new toy), and then a trip up to Temple to eat southern fried chicken and home made peach ice cream at moms, and ended with two awesome episodes of Rome back to back on HBO at my sisters place in Belton. That was a full day.

I walked into the gun show thinking it was about time for somethin' to happen. I was officially designated as legal and dangerous by the great state of Texas a while back, but I had yet to pop the cherry on the old CHP card. I needed to get it over with. The main reason why I wanted one of these things is because it allows the holder to buy new toys without having to go through a potentially tedious background check every time. You're considered preapproved due to the check they do on you before they give you the card. It makes for a very convenient purchasing experience, so I was lookin' forward to my first time.

I walked into the place and found an old guy I'd bought several things from in the past. He's always situated with his table right there at the door. He builds very nice rifles from a mixture of foreign and American made parts. His manufacturing standards are high, and his stuff usually includes things that you don't necessarily find elsewhere. He also has a cute little pug dog that he brings up to the shows from Houston. It snoozes there on a pillow under the table. I grew up with pugs, so it's sometimes hard to tell whether I'm more excited to see the pooch or the firepower.

Anyway, it's cool when you find what you want right off the bat and then get to walk through the place for an hour and see if you can come up with anything better. The excitement builds to a crescendo. I walked by, got his attention and pointed to one rifle, saying "don't sell that one till I get back". He smiled and nodded in recognition, then turned back to his other customer as I walked on.

I walked out of there about 30 minutes later with a bright, shiny new M 70 (Yugoslavian version of the AKM, built on an American receiver).

It has a thicker receiver giving it a more sturdy shooting platform. Early AK-47s had milled receivers (like an SKS), and were steadier and more accurate shooters. A normal late model AK has a stamped receiver, and many have a problem with the receiver warping during sustained firing. This one doesn't do that quite as much because the receiver wall is thicker, and so it has a reputation for being a more accurate shooter. I just think they're cool as hell, and I've wanted one for a while. Many of the ones I've seen on the market have been thrown together imports or ridiculously expensive pre-ban guns. This one was the best of both worlds; well built and affordable. Couldn't believe my good fortune. I threw it in the trunk and zipped back up north towards home, giddy like a little girl.

I stopped briefly at Rudy's BBQ in Roundrock to pick up some Jalapeno sausage and creamed corn. Mmmmmm! I'll eat off that stuff all week long. I needed to be at Mom's by 3:30 so I could put the Ice cream maker together and get it started. Mom makes the cream and then gets me to taste it to see if it is sweet enough.

She pours it into the cylinder, which I then place in the wooden bucket. I attach the motor, pour in the ice and rock salt, and set the thing to turning, refilling the ice and salt as needed.

The routine for doing this is probably in my DNA. I remember when I was a kid and my job was to sit on the thing while my dad cranked it. It was a sign of growing up when I shifted to cranking and took over that job. It was SO COOL when they put a motor on that bastard. The ice cream tastes just as good without the sore arm. Mom's chicken is famous with everyone I know. Has been for as long as I can remember (you may need to put some sort of plastic sheeting over your keyboard to ketch the drool from looking at these pictures... fair warning).

She's got it down to a science. It's actually amazingly easy to make, but it never tastes like moms when I do it myself. What can you say. After about 20 minutes, the ice cream maker shuts down, indicating that the ice cream is frozen, and I bust it open, lift the cylinder up out of the ice, and parcel out the portions.

I've inherited all these duties from dad, who sits back now and waits for his plate. Mom gets the first plate, of course, and dad is second.

He sits in his TV chair and usually feeds a bit of chicken to one of the cats. Their new dog now gets her share along with the others. He's a pushover. Don't know where this guy came from, 'cause the guy that raised me was a cold hearted son-of-a-bitch. I guess we all mellow with time. Sis gets the third plate, and I get the last. There's a method to this madness. Just in case yer thinkin' "Aw, what a nice guy", it turns out the sweetest ice cream is always in the bottom of the bowl. It just so happens. Total coincidence.

After everyone's had their fill, I start the dishes soaking in the sink...

And then its relax, maybe nap, loosen the belt and let the belly expand. The queen retires to her easy chair, and I eventually drive home with my share of the spoils.

A good time was had by all. At one point in the process I was talking with sis about the two upcoming episodes of Rome. She said that we'd probably get to see Mark Antony in the buff, suckin' on a huka (she has the hots for James Purefoy).

I said, innocently, that we'll probably also get to see him fall on his sword. She erupted in outrage. How dare I spoil it for her. I'm like, "didn't you see that movie a dozen times?" I don't think you can really be accused of divulging things that should be common fuckin' knowledge. Jebus, you silly cow. Read a book sometime.

We watched the two episodes back to back, and it was as good as I was expecting it would be. Can't wait for the end, but hate to see it come. I think about how they could continue the series and show us their HBO version of the whole Julian drama. But that's already been done so well in the old BBC series I, Claudius, so I doubt they'll go there.

Too bad. It would be fun to watch our two boys get old and live through some cool history.

Well, that was my week. Now the grind has begun again. It looks like rain all week, and I'm desperately needing to pull weeds and do laundry. And yet here I sit. Well It's late, and it all starts again early in the morning, so enjoy the read, and don't slobber too much on yerself lookin' at the food. Later.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Rest In Peace "Crazy Ray".

I'm totally blown away. Can't believe I'm as effected as I am. It's like someone very close to me has died. I saw him at several games when I was a kid, and lots of times on TV, and even once up close at, of all places, a Lollapalooza concert at Starplex in '94. When I looked up through the rain and mud and realized who it was, I noted that all the other folks around there, mostly young people, were looking up at him with the same feelings I was having. There was a universal joy in seeing this guy who was like a happy fixture from our childhood. Then I thought to myself, what the hell is Ray doing here at Lollapalooza? Turns out he was wading through the crowd, making and handing out balloon animals for a few bucks to the concert goers. I thought at the time, it must be hard making this "Crazy Ray" thing pay. Boy, I was right.

I can't remember a football season without him cheering on the Cowboys, but I hadn't seen anything about him in a long while. I guess he's had health and financial trouble lately. Folks in Dallas came to his aid and got he and his wife of 53 years a house and some money to help pay their bills. Anyway, his troubles are over now. The folks at reported that he died Saturday morning at a hospice, peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by his family. God bless him, and his widow and his family. Dallas really needs to do something big to remember him. Come on Jerry, do something cool.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Went up to Gatesville today to shoot again with a buddy.

Last time I went up there was in January. This time it was just Dave and I, and the pooch. I took a few things up there to shoot, including one rifle that I've modified myself (click these for higher res. shots).

On the left, a Romanian 5.45x39 that I rebuilt with a new gas block and sling loop (from a late model East German AKM), a Bulgarian front sight post, and an East German muzzle break. It's also got Russian plumb colored furniture. It's being rebuilt to resemble a very early model AK-74 from the mid 1970s, and it's about 80% finished. When the Russians began adopting this heat resistant plastic furniture, getting away from the laminated wood they'd used since the late 40s, they adopted this plumb color. I like it a lot.

In the center is the same Hungarian AKMS, shooting 7.62x39, that I had back in January, only I've switched out the furniture since then. I replaced the solid Hungarian wooden grips with a refinished laminated Polish lower and a Russian upper, and a plastic pistol grip. I think it's more attractive set up this way. On the right is the same Polish Tantal that I shot in January. There had been an issue with it when I shot it before. Every time I shot it I had to push the trigger forward again with my finger. Turns out my gunsmith had forgot to reset a spring when he was putting it together. I reset the spring after talking to him, and wanted to test it out again. It also shoots 5.45x39.

Dave decided to shoot some antiques. He's into old stuff. The long gun is a Winchester 73, made in the 1880s. the revolver on the left is a .44-40 single action (same caliber and dates as the rifle).

The one on the right is a Ruger .44 Magnum made in the 1960s. We set up targets and started plinkin' away from about 100 yards.

We worked on our own targets, and then switched off rifles.

His groups are a lot tighter than mine. He's been doin' this sort of thing a lot longer and has a steadier hand.

I'm too shaky to be a real marksman, but I killed the shit outta the target at this range. They'd a been bleedin' bad. It was easy to tell the different holes made by the different guns. That .44-40 made BIG holes. 5.45x39 is like a .22 (it's Russia's version of our .223). Anyway, mine aren't really designed for marksmanship. More for sprayin' lead. Maybe one of these days I'll try that little modification, but I never said that.

This time the dog stayed with us, but kept her distance when the revolvers came out. You remember, last time she took refuge in the truck and slobbered all over the gear shift. We remembered to close the truck door this time.

On the way back to Dave's house, he stopped at a barn and said "You might like some of these". He reached into a dusty, dilapidated box and pulled out belted .50 and .30-06 blanks.

DAMN, was all I could say to that! A buddy of his found them on a hunting trip years ago, abandoned on the side of a trail on Ft. Hood. They're dated to the 1980s. Couldn't believe it.

Dave's house is like a museum. His upstairs is unfinished, and he's got his collection of 18th and 19th century guns on the walls. Most are authentic, but a few are reproductions.

He's a Civil War and Mexican War reenactor, and a pack rat to boot.

His sympathies lie to the southern side of things, where he's traced his ancestors. He knows which battles they fought in and where a few died. Makes it a bit more personal I guess. I joke with him from time to time, calling it "the war of the rebellion". That usually gets a "Hey!"

Anyway, after we shot we went to town and got some BBQ, and then I drove home. It was a nice Saturday afternoon on a beautiful day. Hope all of your Saturdays were as fun.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Here's some funny comics for your perusal.

Jacked these from the guy over at On the Patio. Check him out some time.

What if relationships could (legally) be dealt with like a small business? What would you define as "outsourcing"?

M-O-N-E-Y... is all I'm sayin'. It's all about the benjamins baby, or so they say.

And, perhaps the most disturbing of all...

Virtually a portrait of the FHB, before the beard. Man, now I'm gonna have that old tune in my head for days. So, what were you doing in 73 when Maria Muldaur was putting that little plea out into the air waves? I was about 12, innocent as hell, but could already tell a belly rubbin' song when I heard one. My God, was there ever a better time to be alive? If only I'd been a little older. Oh well. like that tune, those times ended way too soon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

You've all heard about the Kamikaze; Japanese suicide pilots at the end of WW2.

You may not know that they killed or wounded more sailors and soldiers with the kamikaze than they did with any other weapon system in the war. Watch this till the end, to get a look at real zealotry.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Back from a great weekend in Sweetwater.

(click on any of these pictures to see higher res versions)

The weather was perfect. We had cool temps in the evening and sunny days, and it waited till we were on our way home to come a turd floater. Don't ya just love a thunder storm? Particularly with all the rain we need nowadays.

Ooo, I think I soiled my armor. I've been waitin' for weeks for rain so I could show you this one.

Anyway, I'm back from Sweetwater today, with a lot of good pictures. I'll post them over at Flickr eventually, but here are a few to give you a taste.

Breakfast on Saturday morning. Pork and eggs, scrambled.

Mmmm, what's left of a breakfast burrito. Good food...

Good people. The folks I went with teach cooking on base, and they are a lot of fun. Good folks, all ex-army or army spouses. They've all taken one or more of my classes, and now a few of them are in grad school. You really have to give a lot of credit to people who did 20 years in the service and now are getting college degrees, a class or two at a time, online and in class, until they get it done. Hard workers, and good cooks.

meanwhile, the cooking competition got going, with people beginning to cook chili, brisket and ribs.

Smoke rose up over the camp from over a hundred grills like this one.

This years competition was a lot bigger than we'd seen in previous years. A lot more people competing, making the odds of winning that much slimmer. One of the big things about this cook-off is the competition over rattlesnake. They had to be processed...

and then you could cook then any way you chose. Some were grilled...

and some were fried. My buddy David fried his, and then stirred it into a mixing bowl with a secret sauce his wife had earlier prepared. Then it was all about product placement.

This turned out to be the winning entry. We were all very proud of David when they called his number and he went up to get his check for $735, and his plaque.

Oh, and the rattlesnake roundup was also interesting. Lots and lots of little wigglers.

Call me a softy, but I can't help but feel sorry about these critters; pulled out of nice cool dens to be measured, milked, killed and skinned. There are experts who think this sort of thing is horrible, but locals, who live with snakes all the time, think it's no big deal. They say that more snakes are run over every year on local roads than are killed at the round up. Who knows?

This guy, David Sager, with the local JCs, is the same guy I've seen doing the presentation for the last several years. That tells you that he knows what he's doing, walkin' around in this pen without snake boots on, with all these western diamond backs, but you get the idea from the presentation that maybe a lot of the danger associated with these critters is hype.

He walks around amongst them, and they rattle, but they never go after him. He shows that they react to vibrations defensively. The show dispels a lot of myths. he says that they don't chase you, and won't bite you unless you step on them or reach for them.

He goes after one, trying to get it to strike and pop a balloon, agitating it to the point that, in stead of striking, it rolled itself up into a ball...

and then he walked around the pin with it curled up in his hand. Amazing.

The gun show was also OK, and the carnival was the same as last year; lots of rickety rides and nasty looking food. The highlight of the weekend was definitely our friend winning first place with his snake. Congratulations to him, and to his wife for makin' the winning sauce.

Friday, March 09, 2007

So, it's a hot weekend. Yer at a pool party at a buddy's house, and someone gets a really stupid idea.

This is all about trust. Trust, and alcohol. How drunk would you need to be?

And you may have seen this before. It's been goin' around. Too damn funny not to post. Enjoy.

So, I'm heading to the little town of Sweetwater, Texas this weekend. They're having a combined chili cook-off, rattlesnake roundup, carnival, and gun show. Now folks, what the hell else do you need?

Ok, get yer minds out of the gutter. I'm sure I'll be able to round THAT up if needs must. Chili cook-off folks...

are notoriously open minded, horny as hell, and easily plied with small amounts of booze... or so I hear. And if that doesn't work, there's always the carnival folks. Shiny objects and booze? I understand that it works. Many a marriage has been based on less.

A few friends will be competing in the cook-off, and I'll be eating copious amounts of BBQ, and maybe judging the competition. Can you say ringer? Might even eat some BBQ roasted rattlesnake. It ain't bad. Weather looks like it'll be nice; 70s in the day time and 40s at night. Perfect camping weather. I might even get to buy a new toy at the gun show. If the ninjas of the nanny state have their way, I'm sure these sorts of shows will soon be a thing of the past, so why not splurge?

I'll have an early out at the high school tomorrow morning, and then I'm off from there for a week of spring break. On the way back to town to get ready to head to Sweetwater, I'll spend a while at the local veterans cemetery. An old buddy of mine, Bobby Spence, passed away this week. He was one of the attendants in the building on base that I teach out of. Known him for years. Great guy. Army vet. Korea and Nam, I think. Supposedly his wife found him, seemingly sleeping, eyes closed, hands clasped behind his head. She shook his foot to wake him and discovered how cold he was. Now, if that isn't the way to go, I don't know what is. God bless him. He'll be missed.

So, relax and have a great weekend, and I'll see ya on the other end.