Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Halloween - November 5th?

Well, enough about politics and the total destruction of the American way of life.  Let's talk about Halloween.

With New Jersey still feeling the sting from Hurricane Sandy, Governor Chris Christie moved (by official, executive, double-secret decree) Halloween to Monday, November 5th.  This worked out great for The Pudge and his buddies who work the annual haunted house.  They did their last haunted house on Saturday (November 3rd) and that freed them up to go trick-or-treating.  Even though it was pretty cold, they had a great time.  And I didn't have to go with them - which was a big plus.

Some of the boys you know from past blogs.  Simple J is the Detective, The Pudge is the Standing Ghost (you'll have to take my word on that) and Birch is on the far right (I'm not sure what he was supposed to be).

Supposedly, someone took a video of a stroll through this year's haunted house.  If I can find it, I'll post it.  It was really impressive this year.  They had a midget - for real.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Haiku Monday - Cover

M_APs, GPS…d’oh!

A look up will save life or

Down river you go.

As a kid, I never read The New Yorker, but I read an awful lot of MAD.  What better way to marry the two together and show my disdain for all things cellular?

The original New Yorker Cover circa. March 29, 1976

Comparison between the original and the Mad cover.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Borrowed from 1983's Something Wicked This Way Comes.  I love this movie.

By the pricking of my thumbs,

Something wicked this way comes.

It's Halloween and I haven't posted in a few months, so what the hell.  What can I say - I've been busy.  But, as many of you know, I've been lurking about on various blogs.    Anyway, this was the first thing I thought of for a Halloween posting in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  The worst thing is that Springsteen did a song called 4th of July, Asbury Park, but it is colloquially known as Sandy - and being that this is the Land-o-Springsteen, that's all I hear on the local radio.  

 Sandy, the fireworks are hailin' over Little Eden tonight Forcin' a light into all those stony faces left stranded on this warm July
Down in the town, the Circuit's full of switchblade lovers, so fast, so shiny, so sharp
As the wizards play down on Pinball Way on the boardwalk way past dark
And the boys from the casino dance with their shirts open like Latin lovers on the shore
Chasin' all them silly New York virgins by the score

And Sandy, the aurora is rising behind us
This pier lights our carnival life forever
Oh, love me tonight, for I may never see you again
Hey, Sandy girl
My, my, baby

It does conjure a nice visual.  Although Bruce was singing about Asbury Park in the northern shore area, this could apply to all of the boardwalks along the New Jersey coast.  And they are all a long way away from ever being like that again.  The Atlantic City and Ocean City boardwalks got smoked.  Hundreds of yards of boardwalk just ripped to shreds with massive flooding and erosion on Long Beach Island.  The Mrs., The Pudge and I were fortunate enough to visit the Ocean City boardwalk in early October (for the annual Fall Block Party).  A nice memory, but I'm not really looking forward to seeing it again after what I saw on the news.  It'll take years to rebuild.

And old Buzz and stately Buzzkill Manor (with the newly completed north wing) fared very well.  No trees came crashing down to kill us in our sleep.  No large branches speared through the roof to impale us.  No hoards of storm-ravaged psychopaths came busting down the doors to steal our food.  No shivering in our cold, dark hovel for weeks...waiting for the National Guard to rescue us.  Hell, we lost power for less than a minute.  In other words, all of the things The Mrs.  tortured The Pudge and me about - didn't happen.
  The worst thing was that she insisted we all sleep in the basement on Monday night where I woke up with a major league back ache from the friggin' couch.  She's calmed down now - sort of.  We only got about 3" of rain officially, but it sure seemed like more.  The Pudge won't be going back to school until Thursday because parts of our town are still without power and there are a lot of trees down across roadways and traffic lights still out (as of Wednesday morning).

 Halloween has been officially moved to Friday.  This works out well for The Pudge because he will be able to go Trick-or-Treating with his buddies and still participate in the local haunted house, which was moved to Saturday.  They had the haunted house this past Friday and Saturday when the weather was near perfect and the turnout was huge.  For reasons I don't want to go in to, the haunted house was moved to our local swim club this year.  And I have to tell you, this was the best one ever.  I'll post some pictures if I can get them from The Pudge.

Friday is also The Smashing Pumpkin's concert in Camden.  The Mrs., The Pudge and I will brave the elements (it's an outdoor venue) to go see one of The Pudge's favorite bands.  I just hope The Mrs. doesn't bitch about the cold (temps will be in the 40s) the whole time.

Happy Halloween to all!!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Floor

Here's an interesting (well, maybe not) side story to the house addition saga.  Part of the renovation involves replacing a good portion of the first floor with hardwood flooring.  The Mrs.' vision has the same hardwood going from the front door foyer, through the kitchen, den, hallway and new addition.  You add that up and it comes to just over 1,100 square feet.  The wood she selected back in January (something called Rosewood) was still unavailable at the beginning of May, so she had to make another selection (something called Koa or Tiger Wood).  I just know somewhere in a South American rain forest, a crew chief went running into the woods yelling "Don't cut down that forest, move across the road and cut down THAT forest!".

So here was the problem (as I perceived it) with this flooring - the cost.  The flooring with the underlayment cost about $6.50 a square foot (do the math - this is why my stomach hurts all the time).  The 7% NJ sales tax and delivery charge (if we bought it in New Jersey) would be about $800.  But wait, we live next to tax-free Delaware. 

It is common practice for people in Jersey (especially South Jersey) to make a run across the boarder to buy big ticket items like TVs and appliances.  So when I went to Budget rental to get a truck and told them where I was going, there were no questions asked. 

We went on a Sunday because the rates are 1/2 that of Saturday rentals (there's a cost savings tip for you do-it-yourself-movers out there).  I had to rent a 24 foot truck because even though the packets of wood are only 7 feet long and would easily fit into a 12 foot truck, they weigh over 3,700 pounds.  Even with the larger truck, 80 miles worth of diesel fuel (I had to return the truck full) and tolls, it only cost me a little under $200. 

The Pudge in front of the first truck we rented.  After doing all of the paperwork, we went to start it and the battery was dead.  We ended up with the truck on the right.

I've driven a pickup truck all my life, but never a truck this big. 

The Pudge ready to put the hammer down.

Fortunately, when we were at the floor place in Delaware, they were able to forklift the pallet of floor (48 boxes) into the truck using 2 forklifts and 1 guy.  It was interesting to watch how he did that.  Years of experience I'm guessing. 

The Pudge before he and I carried all 48 boxes into the house.  20 went right into the garage, but the other 28 had to go into the addition from the back door. 

We had to be careful where and how we stacked the boxes.  A stack of 5 boxes weighs 400 pounds.  We tried to keep the stacks near the foundations.

It took The Pudge and me about an hour and a half to unload.  The Pudge had bruises up and down the inside of both arms by the time we were done.  I was expecting a visit from DYFS when he went to school the next day.  Oh yeah, he had to suit up and play soccer right after we were done.  He played on defense because he was so tired he couldn't run and the coach needled me about it the whole game.

The floors are installed as of this writing and The Mrs. got to take back 6 leftover boxes of wood and 1 roll of under-layment when she went down to Delaware this week for work. 

I think she's happy with the floor - but you just never know.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Big Hole in the Side of My House

These pictures were taken 2 weeks ago.  They've knocked 2 large pass-thrus in the outside wall now that the addition is fully enclosed. 

This is the larger of the two openings from the den.

Here you can see both openings.  Those laminated beams above the openings probably weigh over 500 pounds each.  The contractor's crew muscled them into position.  You can also see the duct work and piping that goes up to the bedroom.

The new addition has a shed roof with a slightly vaulted ceiling.

Outside with windows and doors in.

The addition from the Tree House Cam.  You can see all of the roofing is in.  30 year architectural shingles - they look good.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hey, Ya Blouse-Wearing Poodle-Walkers - It's the Highland Games - Ach!

The Highland Games - a whole weekend of Groundskeeper Willie imitations, Braveheart yells of "Freedom!", haggis jokes, some Scottish games of skill and - wait for it - catapults!  About every 2 -3 years, our council holds a camporee at one of it's scout reservations to promote the age-old traditions of the Scottish clans - throwing stuff.  This was a weekend camp from Friday night to Sunday morning, with the actual games held all day Saturday. 

The day started with a 6:00AM revelry.  We needed to be up and the troop fed by 7:00AM.  We had hot and cold cereal, fruit and granola bars.  We had 3 patrols entered (the Flaming Eagles, the Phoenix and the Raging Ravens - the boys like fire and anger), each with 5 - 6 scouts.  To even out the skill levels and prevent troops from stacking patrols, the events had 2 classification - heavy weight and light weight.  Boys in high school or above the rank of First Class were considered heavy weight.  We're a young troop and we only had one scout in the heavy weight class.  There were about 18 troops, 35 patrols and over 200 scouts participating.  One troop actually showed up in kilts, which was pretty cool.

Get your Haggis right here! Chopped heart and lungs boiled in a wee sheep's stomach! Tastes as good as it sounds! ~ Groundskeeper Willie

All nice and quiet just before we got the boys up.  It was a balmy 32 degrees!

"It won't last. Brothers and sisters are natural enemies. Like Englishmen and Scots! Or Welshmen and Scots! Or Japanese and Scots! Or Scots and other Scots! Damn Scots! They ruined Scotland!" ~ Groundskeeper Willie

The games consist of 15 skill stations that each patrol must negotiate.  Most of the skills required throwing something - rocks, stones, cabers, spears, etc. The remaining stations were feats of strength like the tug-of-war or log drag.  And each troop had to host a station and have it set up, ready to go at 7:30AM. Our station was the Hammer Throw. Our scoutmaster made light and heavy "hammers" out of free weights, 1" pipe and clamps. They worked great and I think we had one of the better stations at the event.

We only had 3 adult leaders on this trip, so the scoutmaster and other leader set up and ran our station while I followed the three patrols and hustled them around to make sure they got to the correct station at the right time. A monumental task made more difficult by a bunch of un-prepared troops. When the games officially started at 8:30AM, about a 1/3 of the stations weren't ready or even identified. It was slow going at first.

Here's our station - the Hammer Throw.

The Pudge doing the log throw.  He used a windmill technique that got him the 3rd best distance of the day.

After all of the stations were completed and lunch was eaten (the council's Order of the Arrow group at the camp had a hoagie sale - yea, no cooking!), it was time for the much anticipated Catapult Siege.  The troop actually prepared for this 3 Saturdays in advance of the games by constructing our catapult and trailering it to the camp (allowed by rule).  Also, the catapult had to be constructed of timbers (no dimensional lumber) and lashed together with rope (no mechanical fasteners). 

“"Bonjoooouuuuurrrrrrr yer cheese eatin' surrender monkeys"” ~ Groundskeeper Willie on the French (or other troops in the competition).

The power for the catapult could come from the boys (boys pulling a rope), springs, bungees or counterweights.  We chose to use counterweights and two garage door springs.  The catapult had to throw a full, 2-liter soda bottle as far as possible.

Here we are on the "line" preparing our catapult to lay siege.

Another view of the catapult with ammunition.

“Now we're wasting more energy than Ricky Martin's girlfriend.” ~ Groundskeeper Willie

There were nine catapults in all.  I don't have pictures of them (for the public).  It was an interesting group of engineering marvels.  All different in varying degrees, most not really functional.  After the order was given to commence firing, you could fire as many times as you wanted, tweak the catapult for maximum distance and you would be measured on your longest shot. 

The catapult that ended up winning didn't look like much, but it clearly out-distanced the 2nd place winners by a good 30 - 40 feet.  And those 2nd place winners - would be our troop.  We narrowly edged out the 3rd place winners (and a rival cross-town troop at that) with an unofficial distance of about 50 feet.  Doesn't sound like much, but it was good enough that day.  

"Come on ya pansies, I've seen fiercer fights in parliament." ~ Groundskeeper Willie

The camp provided a dinner of chicken, pulled pork, ham and ziti (guid Scottish fare), so no cooking again.   Unfortunately, we couldn't have a camp fire because of drought and fire restrictions, so we had a camp-wide meeting under the large pavilion for the awards.  Out of a possible 45 ribbons in the lightweight class (15 games, 1st, 2nd and 3rd places), our patrols took home 15 ribbons.  Most by the Flaming Eagles (9, I think), the rest by the Phoenixes (Phoenii? - we always have this discussion) with the Raging Ravens getting skunked.  But the one that really mattered to us, the catapult siege 2nd place ribbon, was truly a troop effort and currently hangs from the troop flag pole.  Not bad for our first time in the Highlands. 

The boys after a very long competition and guid dey (good day).

Groundskeeper Willie: I'll bring those kids back dead or alive!
Skinner: Not DEAD!
Groundskeeper Willie: Aw, you never let Willie be Willie!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Boys Shouting* - Neckerchief Slide Conclusion

* - A nod to Gilda Radner's Roseanne Roseannadanna.  Anyone remember that sketch?  Well, I sure do.

Way back in January, I told you all about my quest to get the troop to Class "A" status with their uniforms by ensuring that all of the boys had neckerchief slides.  To that end I think I was successful, although, like most eveything I do, it turned into a much larger project than it should have been.

In addition to the troop, we hosted not one, but two Webelos Dens that were ready to "cross-over" to the Boy Scouts and were checking out our troop (boys age out of Webelos at 11 years old and have the option of choosing a boy scout troop in which to transfer or leaving the scouting program). 

Most of the scouts (the best I could hope for) were well behaved, attentive and brought interesting and unusual items to be made into neckerchief slides.  I had over 50 blank slides in black, green and brown (black being the favorite) that I had pre-made during the weeks leading to the neckerchief slide nights.  I say "nights" because of scheduling problems (on the part of the Webelo leaders) we actually had 3 neckerchief slide nights.  Here are some of the highlights.

Turns out that Mr. Kill was the only one to get burned with the hot glue gun.

A hamburger eraser with the scout's initials.  You could see that if this was any where close to in focus.  The Boy (now an Assistant Scout Master) was here this night taking the pictures, so I am blameless for these.

This was a popular slide.

I don't know what to say about the one on the left with the teddy bear.  The one on the right is some kind of video game symbol with guns, which was kind of cool.  One Webelo brought his grandfather's  lieutenant's bars.  We didn't let him use those.

I wasn't sure about a British Flag on an American Scout uniform.  The scout in question knew that Sir Baden Powell, founder of American Boy Scouts, was a lieutenant-general in the British Army.  How do I argue with that?

This is The Pudge's slide.  You may recognize the guitar pick from our concert a few years ago.  Several other scouts used guitar picks too.

Last but not least, Mr. Kill's slide.  Believe it or not, this is a stone from the Roman Colosseum that I "acquired" some 25 years ago on my one and only visit to Rome.  The boys thought that was pretty cool.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter?

The Pudge has this whole theory that Jesus rising from the dead makes him - a zombie. *sigh*

Happy Easter to all my blogger friends.  May you enjoy or keep reverent this holiest of days with your family and friends.  

I guess it couldn't hurt to check the ammo locker.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Problems with Blogger, Boy Scouts and Boxer's B-Day

I tried to comment on Moi's and Boxer's blogs with no joy.  Fortunately, I copied my comments before I lost them:

@ Boxer - The chandelier does need something, I just don't know what. Puppy dogs and boys are the same - they grow faster than their brains for sure. I don't think I'll be in the smackdown this weekend (in fact- I'm positive). Have a good weekend.

@ Moi -  These songs always remind me of summer: Summertime Blues by Eddie Cochran, Under the Boardwalk by the Drifters, 409 by the Beach Boys, Summer Breeze by Seals and Croft and Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf.

No summertime for me this weekend. I'm going camping with the boys in the rain and 40 degree weather. But I hope to have some of these songs rattling around in my head.

Last weekend, the boys and I went all nuclear.  We visited the local nuclear plant (yeah, just like Homer - I get it) and earned the Nuclear Engineering Merit Badge.  The fact that it didn't make national headlines - is a good thing.  They got to go in to an exact replica of a control room (think the movie China Syndrome), messed with Geiger counters and radiation suits, and got to stand next to this:

This thing is over 500 feet tall and evaporates 13,000 gallons of water per minute. 

Happy Birthday Boxer!!!  I would get you this because it's just as stupid as the real thing - but a whole lot less work.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Colcannon Revisted

A couple of weeks ago, I made a Colcannon recipe for the Culinary Smackdown competition. You'll recall that I used red cabbage and the dish turned an unappetizing blue/purple.  Well, I remade it for this weeks St. Patrick's Day office potluck.  I used a bag of shredded cole slaw cabbage that had some carrots in it it too.  It looked much better and was a pretty big hit at lunch.  Three people asked for the recipe.   I only had enough left overs for my lunch today - and it still looked (and tasted) appetizing.
Colcannon with much better coloring.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Haiku Monday - Circle

Hollywood Marshall.
Shooting from the hip gaiety.
Circle gets the square.

Davy Jones Tribute - I never knew they were on the Squares.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Haiku Monday - Silence

Two classes of ships,
Submarines - and their targets.
Run silent, run deep.

Yeah, I decided to play this week because it was a great theme and this popped into my head pretty quickly.  Last week's haiku winner, Foam at The Foaming, is hosting with theme of Silence this week.  Stop on over to hear the roar.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

There But For The Grace of God Go I...and Moi's Questions Answered

If you haven't seen this picture, it's friggin hysterical.  But my second thought after LOLing was - that could have been The Boy (and for the record - it's not).  

As many of you know, The Boy is a freshman at a Virginia collage and very active in politics - Right Wing Politics.  He's a student government senator (the Freshman Senator from New Jersey as he likes his family to address him), a school ambassador and he has a one-day-per-week internship with the local County Board of Administration (sans pay of course).  So with all of the political contacts and inroads he's making, he actually had the opportunity (a select few student government members received tickets) to go to hear the president give a speech a few weeks ago.  The Boy bailed at the last minute because of a test that he couldn't get out of.  I don't think he tried all that hard to reschedule the test because he's no fan of the president.  But how often does one get a chance to meet the president?  Knowing The Boy, there'll be a lot of them.

Anyway, Moi tagged me for one of these "intimate questions" MEMEs.  Like I don't have enough to do?  I am choosing Fight Club Rules where there are no rules - I'm just answering the F-ing questions.

1. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun or The Boys Are Back in Town?

I'll take Thin Lizzy over Cyndi Lauper any day of the week.

2. Camping or the Ritz?

I'm a friggin' Boy Scout, so of course I'm going to take the Ritz.  Camping is for - boy scouts.

3. What food are you craving RIGHT NOW . . . did you eat it?

Cookies and ...yes.

4. The most thrilling place you've ever visited. Why?

San Francisco, 17 October 1989 - 7.2 earthquake. 

5. If you could slip into the skin of one public figure--celebrity, artist, politician--who would it be?

Tommy Lee from Mötley Crüe.  Five words - Heather Locklear and Pam Anderson.  And you know he worked a threesome at some point with those two.

7. Look up from your computer. What do you see?

I see dead people...working all around me.

8. Sum up your philosophy of life in one sentence. You can borrow it from someone else, if you'd like.

I don't have a philosophy, just a reality - and it's the banner on my blog. 

9. The one thing you just don't understand about kids today.

Kid's fashion - How can boys walk around with their pants below their butts?   How can girl's parents let them walk around with tight, yoga pants that say "Love Pink", "Sassy" and "Naughty"?

10. If you could steal one work of art from a museum or gallery, which would it be?

 The The Card Players by Paul Cézanne because it was worth more than $250 million in 2011.

11. Regular toothbrush or electric?

Regular.  Power tools in my mouth should only be used by a trained professional.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Culinary Smackdown - Cabbage

There's an Irish Song that goes like this:

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?"

The chorus:
Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I'm to cry.
Oh, wasn't it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.

Yeah, I never heard of it either.

Anyway, Grumpy Granny is hostessing this month's Culinary Smackdown and she has named the theme - Cabbage!   These smackdowns encourage experimentation and the trying new recipes.  So I'm going for the latter because experimentation with cabbage just sounds wrong.  When I think of cabbage, I think sauerkraut or cole slaw, both of which I have made numerous times.  And of course, being close to St. Patty's Day, there is corned beef and cabbage.  And that jogged my memory on a recipe I came across several years ago while looking for something to make on St. Patty's - Colcannon.  Although it's a pretty simple recipe, I've never made it before, so it satisfies he challenge as far as I'm concerned. 

I looked at several recipes on and found this Colcannon recipe.  The actual name of the recipe is called "Diane's Colcannon" which I thought was a play on Dyan Cannon who I loved in The Last of Sheila.  Anyone? Bueller? She was hot back in the 70s and at one time was married to Cary Grant - but I digress.  Turns out the recipe was submitted by Diane F., go figure.

Anyway, here are the ingredients I used.  I bought shredded cabbage (because I just happened to see it at the store) and I had leftover bacon from Sunday breakfast (did he say leftover bacon? - yeah, I know but I had cooked up 1/2 lb for 2 of us). 

The Ingredients.  I cut corners using shredded cabbage and leftover bacon.

The potatoes are boiling and the mis en place - are in place
Because I didn't have any bacon grease, I used butter instead.  After I cooked the cabbage and onion for about 10 minutes, I added in the bacon to heat it up and get some of that flavor into the cabbage.  My mom use to keep a jar of bacon grease for this kind of cooking.  She used it a lot in her tomato sauce.  I need to start doing that.
Cabbage and onion are cooking in butter and I diced the bacon.

Colcannon in the pot, 1 minute old.
Here's dinner.  Yeah, big deal, but it's all I had time to do.  I actually had intended to do a ham steak, but we were out because someone left it off the shopping list.
Monday dinner.
The Verdict:  The Pudge and I thought this was really good.  You definitely get the cabbage and bacon flavor.  The onion not so much. And I don't know if green cabbage would have been better than red, but it would have fit the song better.  And like most of my smackdown food, I always have leftovers for lunch.  I will tell you that after a couple of days in the fridge, the Colcannon started to take on a bluish/purplish hue.  Not the most appetising thing to look at, but it still tasted good.

The Mrs. (who claims to be Irish) said it was just OK.  In fact, she never even heard of it before.  She offered a criticism that the bacon needed to be chopped finer than it was.  And I agree with her.

My office is going to have a potluck lunch for St. Patty's Day and I've already rogered up to make this.  We'll see how that goes.