Why are we saving the planet?

mushroom-cloud-hbI hate to be the one to break it to you but folks, there is going to be an apocalypse. Whether it’s created by God or a human nuclear war, it’s going to happen. It may not happen in our lifetime but it will certainly happen. All life as we know it will cease to exist and the planet will be uninhabitable by modern life forms. So why are we trying so hard to save the planet? Why are we shitting in water saving toilets or even worse, compost toilets? Why are we separating our plastics from our papers? Why are we not burning as much coal as possible to drive our insatiable appetite for energy driven products? Why are we villainized for driving a vehicle that gets less than 25 mpg? I just don’t get it.

The dinosaurs had a beautiful planet going on and then God’s kid brother bumped the chess board, all the pieces fell over and BAM! It was all over. Nuclear winter and planetary extinction. What did God do? He lined up the chess men and started the game over. Two more tiny amoeba and we start a new ant farm. Perhaps it will be of our own doing this time with the Hadron Collider. Listen carefully to this video. Lord help us all.

I’m burning my plastic. I use spray deodorant and I drive a gas hog. I don’t care if there is a clean battlefield when Iran decides to launch the first nuke that’s answered by 1000 more from us, Russia, North Korea and China, blowing life as we know it out of the universe. I don’t see the point.

Let it snow

snow-02-06-2010I woke up to 15 inches of snow this morning. These storms are nice when they happen on the weekend and you are ready for them. I like being snowed in but you have to be prepared.

A quick run to the beer distributer.
Better hit the liquor store too.
Make sure the car has gas in case of an emergency.
Make sure there is gas for the tractor to plow the driveway.
Don’t for get groceries and snacks for the Super bowl.

Okay, ready or not, here it comes!

Sky has an emergency vet visit

skyfence-colorBy the time I get to the vet’s office Sky seems just fine. They check me in and I sit and wait for about 10 minutes. Vet girl #1 comes out and gets me to go back and weigh him in and go into the examination room. Sky jumps right on the scale no problem. 49.6 pounds. We go in to the exam room and wait for about another 3 minutes. Here comes vet girl #1 again, this time with a rectal thermometer. I get one arm up under his belly so he can’t sit down and hold his collar with the other hand so he can’t turn around and bite her and she does the deed and leaves.

So far so good.

About 4 minutes later here comes Doc Kepner.

Doc Kepner: “Okay, so tell me again what’s wrong”.

Me: “Well, I feed him a can of food every morning before I leave for work. He has dry food available all the time and whatever I eat at night, he eats too. Plus, he gets rawhide chew toys and bones on a regular basis, like three or four times a week. Everything was normal until this morning when I fed him his can of food. He took one bite and started yelping real bad and slunk out of the room. I coaxed him back in and he went right for the food again and took about 3 more bites but was yelping and crying really bad like he was dying. Then he came up to me like he was hurt and I started petting his chest and sides to see if I could find out where he was hurting, but he just yelped and cried like he was dying no matter where I touched him.

So I started freaking out. I’m thinking his stomach flipped or something. I saw Marley & Me you know, and it made me cry, so I go fire up the computer because I live in Juniata county and I don’t have a Daupin County phone book, and I just don’t trust the local vets up there….and that’s when I called you. I’m sorry for waking you up but honest to God Doc, I thought he was dying.

After I hung up with you I looked and he had finished all his food and I took him outside. He started playing and running around as if everything was normal. He took a dump, which I collected for you right here in this bag”.

Doc Kepner: “Well, let’s have a look at his teeth”.

Doc Kepner comes closer and starts to reach towards Sky

Me: “Careful Doc. He’s a little funny with strangers. He only likes me”.

Doc Kepner reaches out and grabs a handful of the loose skin on Sky’s jowls and…. it’s on. The switch goes off and Sky’s eye’s go crazy and Sky goes crazy. It sounds like the Tasmanian devil, only possessed and very, very angry. The ears are back , the teeth are out and Sky is jerking his head around violently trying to bite him, then he’s trying to bite me. He’s trying to bite anything he can reach but Dr. Kepner has the vet death grip from hell on that jowl.
About 45 seconds or a minute goes by, which actually seemed like a few minutes, and all the sudden the door bursts open and vet girl #1 and vet girl #2 come running in.

Vet girl #1: “Are you okay”?
Vet girl #2: “Do you need any help”?

Doc Kepner: “No we’re fine. We’re just getting to know each other in here. Besides, he told me that he was a little funny”.

Keep in mind, the struggle is still going on. Doc Kepner has Sky’s head pointed the other way now so he can see the other side of his teeth. The vet girls leave the room and the fight continues for about another 30 seconds. Then as quickly as it began, it was over. He released the vet death grip from hell, and Sky was sitting right up against me and looking at us like “What the fuck man?

Doc Kepner: “Well he has beautiful healthy teeth. I can’t believe it. He has better teeth than a two year old, and he’s as strong and healthy as a two year old too. Maybe he bit his tongue, but I don’t see any bruising. Maybe he ate something that gave him a sore throat. I’ll give you some mild pain killers for him. They’re about like baby aspirin but non-steroidal. Give him one twice a day and keep an eye on him.

And that’s it. He leaves, I pay the $69 bill and we leave.
We got home and I gave him his first pill, crushed up and in a little food. He yelped and cried when he ate it, but he ate it. That was around noon. Then just now after dinner I gave him the other one mixed in with dinner and he ate it without making a sound.

It seems like he’s getting better. We’ll see I guess.

It’s strange how life works…..

holdinghandsIt’s strange how life works. We are born wide eyed and curious, and soak in our surroundings in our young formative years. It begins the base of our foundation. We are thrust into schools where we ultimately gravitate to groups of people who are similar to us in intelligence and interest. We eventually leave those schools as young men and women and we are tossed out of the nest to either find jobs or go to college depending upon our previous choices in school or our social economic classes.

Some of us go to work in factories or service businesses. Some of us fix automobiles or build houses. Some of us will serve our country. When we do, we find that we fit in socially with others in the same line of business and we see familiar faces in our recreation because somehow we all enjoy the same types of recreation. You can find these people in any hard working town like Pittsburgh, Cleveland or Steelton. You’ll find them in local bars raising hell and rooting for their favorite football team and you’ll find them at the watering holes where a line of Harleys are displayed majestically outside the front door.

Some of us go on to be doctors and some of us go on to be entrepreneurs. Some go on to be politicians or diplomats. Some go on to be scientists, lawyers, law makers and accountants. You’ll find these folks at country clubs all across America. You’ll find them vacationing in Hawaii and you’ll find them dining in New York and LA’s finest posh restaurants. You’ll find them in Colorado’s ski resorts and on any tropical beach in the Caribbean.

I’ve never seen a long haired tattooed scruff rolling out of Harvard’s parking lot. I’ve never even heard of such a thing.

Anyway, we live our lives. We form relationships and we fall in love. We get married. We raise families. We fall out of love and we get divorced. We move to different towns for better work and make new friends and find new lovers. Nothing stays the same. And then all of the sudden you turn around and in what seemed to have been just the blink of an eye you’ve lost a decade……or two. The spouse you wake up next to isn’t the same spouse you started with. Your children are no longer kids. They are adults with kids of their own and none of your friends are the same. They are new friends that you’ve made along with the countless other life changes that you’ve made. You wonder where it all went and how…and why.

laurie&me2Because of modern technology and social networking sites like facebook, we are provided the luxury and privilege of keeping in touch with friends and family, not only over miles but over time as well. I was recently provided with such a treat. Nine or ten years ago for me it was all about what I perceived as “the good time”. Bar hopping on the Harley every night and spending my life in pretty much an alcoholic haze and just living in the moment. Laurie was pretty much doing the same and our lives crossed briefly back then, and then we grew apart for whatever reason or another. And then she was gone and I was gone.

We recently found each other on facebook. We exchanged a few emails and promised to get together to reminisce the old times and to catch up on the new. The years have taught us both some harsh, valuable lessons and with ten years of wisdom and maturity on our side, we found that we have much more in common now than we did back then. I think we actually take the time now to step back and realize that we enjoy each other’s company rather than to just expect it to be so. We had so much fun on the first date that we had a second, and we had so much fun on the second date that we promise to have a third. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to spend time with such a lovely girl who has blossomed into such a beautiful person. I wonder who to thank for this. Do I thank God? Do I thank technology? Do I thank Mark Zuckerberg for founding facebook?

How about I just thank them all.

Jennifer Nettles

JenniferNettlesI had never heard of Jennifer Nettles and had no idea who she was until recently. I was watching the 2009 CMA awards on TV when an angel appeared. And so there she was, this statuesque beautiful blond with warm green eyes that just make you want to swim in them. She appeared sort of awkward in her movements on stage. Not quite Joe Cocker awkward, but more robotic sort of awkward. It fit the performance. I was riveted to the screen. I cranked the volume up to max and melted into the song and I was hooked. The song was “Keep You” and her current band is commonly known as Sugarland.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. One of the marks of a true musician is when the person doesn’t play they song, but the song plays the person. Jennifer Nettles is one of those people who gets it. She is like a medium or a portal where the music somehow enters her body and uses her as the vessel to release itself into you. She is amazing.

So being the geek I am, I fired up google and started learning what I could about her. Wikipedia has some good info, and she has a dandy JenniferNettles.com homepage. Google images has seemingly endless collections of photographs of her, and it was about then that I realized that I’ve been hiding in this house too long and I should get out more. Here is this absolutely gorgeous, lovely talent and I’m just now finding out about her. What else have I missed I wonder.

Sugarland More CMT Music More CMT Music Videos

Then through my googling I found the actual music video for Keep You. Wow! I’ve listened to a number of Sugarland songs since then, and while I really wouldn’t consider myself a Sugarland fan, I am definitely a Jennifer Nettles fan.

Enjoy the video(s). I’ve pasted the lyrics below for those who are interested.

We said goodbye. Tried her hand at magic.
But we couldn’t make us disappear.
Not a day goes by I don’t wish I had you.
So run away, I’m glad you’re still here.
It’s a bitter sweet victory.
Lovin’ the ghost in front of me.

Now I can’t laugh, can’t cry.
And I can’t run, can’t hide.
What do I gotta do?
What do I gotta do to keep you?
What do I gotta do to keep you from doing this to me?

I wrote a couple of notes.
One in love, one in anger.
They’re lying there dying in the dresser drawer.
Lived louder than my voice. Struggled through a stranger.
He loved me until I loved you even more.
It’s a bitter sweet victory.
Lovin’ someone else who wanted me.

Now I can’t laugh, can’t cry.
And I can’t run, can’t hide.
You get used to the pain, and numb to the sting
Till you can’t feel anything.

You tried to explain, but I couldn’t hear it.
As if your words were my tears.
Flowing freely, warm and quiet.
From the edges of my eyes and my ears.
Then all that disappears.

Now I can’t laugh, can’t cry.
And I can’t run, can’t hide.
Now I can’t laugh, can’t cry.
And I can’t run, can’t hide.

What do I gotta do?
What do I gotta do to keep you?
What do I gotta do to keep you from doing this to me?

The Beauty of Boilo

boiloI learned of a new drink from my friend and com-padre Rob Llewellyn this weekend. It’s called Boilo. From what I understand, it has Lithuanian roots, and at this time I’d like to personally thank the Lithuanians for bringing this fine recipe over from the old country and sharing it here in the good ol’ US of A. I am enjoying it immensely.

Rob has taught me a lot of things. When I first started camping in a camper, he taught me how when and why you tip your awning. When I started motor boating he taught me how to trim my out drive. He turned me onto soupies, which are a delicious meat snack that goes great with beer, and now he’s taught me about boilo. While I’m thanking people, I thank you Rob, for all that other stuff too, but especially for the boilo.

There are many boilo recipes out there on on the net. A simple google search will turn up a good harvest. After reading a few, I went to the grocery store and got some goodies and here’s how I made mine.

3 large navel oranges
3 lemons
1 1/2 oz of raisins
16 ounces of honey
1 rounded teaspoon of cinnamon
1 quart of blended whiskey

Peel the oranges and lemons and smash the shit out of them in a pot. I used my hands to squeeze as much as I could squeeze and then I smashed them with an old fashioned potato masher. Toss in the raisins, honey and sprinkle on the cinnamon. You’ll wind up with about probably a quart of juice pulp liquid stuff. Cover it and pop it in the oven at 200 degrees. In a few minutes it smells heavenly. Every half hour, get it out of the oven and smash it some more. In about 3 or 4 hours, it’ll be cooked down as much as it’s going to cook down and it’s almost ready.

Take it out of the oven and strain it into a pitcher. Add the quart of whiskey and stir it real good and pour yourself a cup in a coffee cup. If it’s not hot enough, zap it in the microwave a little.

And that my friends is boilo, or at least one version of it. There are a few things to note.

* Keep the oven at 200 degrees. No warmer. You don’t want it to boil even though it’s called boilo.
* Never add the whiskey while you are cooking it. Heat will evaporate the alcohol and we certainly don’t want that now do we.
* Don’t keep it hot for the reason above. When you want another cup, just pour it in a cup and nuke it.
* Watch it when you put it in the microwave because it will bubble out over the top if you get it too hot.

After your first sip you will know in your heart that there is no finer holiday drink known to man. After the second cup, you will be hooked and telling all your friends about it. After the third cup, you’re likely to announce that eggnog is for pussies, and so forth it goes.

Disclaimer: There are many many ways to make this. Some use a crock pot. Some make it on the stove top and actually bring it to a boil with the booze already in it. There are many ways to skin this cat so please don’t jump all over me and tell me that I’m doing it all wrong. The method that I laid out above is simply the way I chose to spin it after doing much research on the net. I intend to make many variations of this as long as the weather stays cold and I crave a nice hot drink, but for now, this is the way I did it and all I can tell you is that this is some awesome stuff and………..

Eggnog is for pussies.

UPDATE: I’ve been using Evan Williams Cherry Whiskey and I only add about 3/4 of the bottle. It makes it real nice 🙂

Sometimes my brilliant ideas aren’t so brilliant

yamsDuring my many trips to the Riviera Maya there were many, many things that I truly enjoyed and one of those things was a little dish that I’d always load up on at the breakfast buffet. That dish was fried bananas. They take bananas, quarter them and fry them in butter and brown sugar. Nummy! I always looked for them when I was in a Mexican resort and I started making them at home once in a while too.

During one of my recent grocery shopping trips I bought a few sweet potatoes. I like baked sweet potatoes as much as I like baked white or red potatoes with a steak or a good piece of baked haddock. Anyway, I had a small sweet potato left and was sitting there on the counter for about a week and then it hit me. I had a brilliant idea! I’d prepare that little sweet potato just like I prepare those delicious fried bananas.

So I peeled it with care, quartered it, and placed it in a covered frying pan with about a half an inch of water and let it cook. When the water boiled down and the potatoes were soft, I added about two tablespoons of butter and a quarter cup of brown sugar and that’s when it hit me. I had just made a serving of your common everyday candied yams. You know, the ones that you can buy in any grocery store in the free world and even in most third world countries.

Imagine my chagrin. It’s good that I like candied yams. I had never made them any other way other than opening a can and heating them up, but now I know, and you know what? They were as sweet and tasty as the fried bananas that I love so well, but instead of dreaming of the tropics while I had my breakfast, I had thoughts of the many thanksgiving dinners that I’ve had in my life and how much I love my dear grandmother. She made candied yams almost every Thanksgiving that she cooked, if not every Thanksgiving that she cooked.

So while this brilliant idea wasn’t really all that brilliant, it turned out okay in the end and I learned that candied yams taste surprisingly like fried bananas.

The Price of Character

integrityJust how much does character cost?  Can it be purchased as a package deal with integrity since the two seem to go together?  Where is the character store, and just exactly where can one purchase some integrity?  Funny questions one might think.  Some would say that you can’t buy character, and even more would say that you can’t buy integrity, but I say they’re wrong.

You can buy poise and beauty.  A woman can spend 50 grand on a boob job a tummy tuck and an ass lift, take the other 10 grand and go to charm school and have the appearance of poise and beauty.  A man can can do the equivalent makeover but the problem with all that is that after all that work is done, those who know you or will get to know you will still see the rotten core inside.  That is of course if the core inside is indeed rotten.

So, where is the character store?  Who do I make the check out to?  I pondered these questions for many years.  When I was younger, it didn’t seem to matter, but I still wondered, and then as maturity started to set in, it became important to me.  I wanted to know.  I had to know.  I wanted to be better than I was.  I wanted to be proud of myself and I realized that I couldn’t be proud of myself until I obtained some character and integrity. Utmost character and integrity.   I first learned what that really meant when I started working for MindSpring.  Charles brewer created a set of core values and beliefs by which his business would run.  We read them at every company meeting and we believed in them.  I adopted them as a way to point my personal life in the right direction and it was a true turning point for me.

I had a best friend back then, who is still my best friend today, and all of the sudden I realized that the answer was right in front of me.  It came natural to him somehow.  Perhaps it was the way he was raised, or perhaps it is just part of his make-up, but he had been the example that I had wanted to follow for a long time, but I had  never realized.  It all comes down to something very, very simple.

In life, many things happen and many opportunities present themselves to you, and when they do, there is a very simple and uncomplicated question you have to ask yourself.  There is always a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do, and that is what that question is.  Should I do the right thing or should I do the wrong thing?

So let’s get back to the price of character.  The price of integrity.  In many cases it’s free.

That chick at the bar.  She’s hot.  She’s drunk.  She’s eying you up like a cougar eyes up a gazelle.  Now she’s sitting next to you and rubbing your leg but wait!  What’s that?  Oh, it’s a wedding ring on her finger and you find out that she’s married and having a fight with her husband, or even worse yet, her husband is your friend.  Sure, you’re single and can pull this off no problem but that is exactly the time you need to ask yourself that question.

Should I do the right thing or should I do the wrong thing?

Many people make the wrong decision, but if you make the right one and walk away, you have just purchased some character.  You now own some integrity.

Selling character and integrity is much easier than buying it.  Say you are buying some smokes at the local quicky mart and you hand the man a ten and he gives you change for a twenty.  You realize it and he doesn’t.

Ask yourself that question.  Should I do the right thing or should I do the wrong thing?

If you do the right thing, it just cost you 10 bucks…..but not really.  It wasn’t your ten bucks to begin with. If you stuff that extra ten in your pocket and walk out guess what. You just sold your character for a measly ten bucks.

I’ve been trying my best to do the right thing since 1996.  I’m doing a great job.  I’ve passed many tests, but it never stops.  It’s kind of like alcoholism.  You relapse one time and you have to start all over.  My latest character test cost me $50.36.

I blew a brake line in my car on the highway.  I made it home.  It was dangerous but i got my car into my driveway.  I tried, but couldn’t fix it myself so I called the local garage and asked them to come and tow the car over and fix it.  While they had it, I asked them to do a bunch of other work that needed done.  Anyway, two weeks later, my car was done and I went to pick it up.  The bill was $505.43 and i wrote  the man a check.

As I’m talking to him, and glancing over my bill, I noticed that he never charged me for the towing.  I’ve been doing this to myself for so long now that I didn’t even give it a second thought and never batted an eye.

“Brownie, you forgot to charge me for the rollback”

He looked at the bill and I could see in his eyes that I had made an instant connection with another man of character.  He is also a man of integrity and would he would have done the same thing.  Who else would do that?  He put it on my next bill, because he knew I’d never stand for accepting it for free.  It was $50.36. That was the price of character that day.

Dreaming Dreams

sailboat-against-a-beautiful-sunsetWhen I was a youngster my grandfather bought my brothers and I each mini bikes. I loved riding that mini bike and for years I dreamed a dream of racing motocross like my older brother did. When I was sixteen years old I bought an old motocross bike and I raced it. I was no where near as good as my big brother was, but I lived that dream and I loved it.

Then while in my teens I dreamed of owning and riding a Harley and living the biker lifestyle, and then I bought my first Harley at age 22 and lived that dream. I rode hard and lived hard for many years on Harleys. I have many memories and many stories, most of which I’ll never tell, but I loved that life and I lived that dream.

I graduated that dream many years later one leg short and one education long, and I dreamed a dream of climbing the corporate ladder and making what I thought was a success of myself. Good lord, I did that too. While I had all the money from that success, I dreamed a dream of going to the Caribbean and seeing the white sand and crystal blue sea. I loved that dream so much that I lived it over a dozen times. That was a beautiful dream. It was an even better reality.

I’ve had other dreams. Dreams of sports cars, and whitewater adrenaline. Dreams of flying ultralight aircraft and dreams of a satisfying music career. I’ve been very fortunate to have realized most or all of my dreams. I am thankful for being so fortunate.

I’m in a lull now. I’m not realizing any of my dreams, but I still have a dream.

I’m in what is probably, or hopefully the October of my life. The puberty of January, February and March is long gone. The freshness and excitement of April May and June have long since passed, but with some ass kickin memories I might add. July August and September were cool and had their high points, but what about now. My leaves are changing. My blood is running a little colder and my time is running out, but I still have a dream.

I’ve realized all of my other dreams. I wonder if I’ll be able to realize my last one.

sea-captainI dream a dream of living aboard a single handed sailing yacht in the Caribbean. Her interior will be of dark mahogany and her fixtures will be bright shiny brass. Her lines will be sleek and nordic, and her beam will be wide and stable. Her captain (me) will be salty and satisfied,and will gaze out to the beautiful blue horizon soaking in every memory I’ve ever had. Every sip of rum will bring back a thought of an old friend and every night will be filled with the comfort of the memory of a lost love. Some day, I will die on that ship with the distinction and integrity that I deserve.

I only hope that if I realize that dream that when I die, the sea sees fit to toss me overboard and my ship makes it’s way through life’s winds to another sailor who is young at heart and has a dream to dream.

Alacrity 19 – The sail plan begins to take shape

imgp0246I finished whittling the mast and got a few coats of stain on it. You can see in the picture that I still have to trim about two feet off the top. I wish I could leave it there for leverage when raising the gaff but sadly, if I leave it there, the boat won’t fit under the bridges where I sail. So I’ll whack it off with a saw one of these days. In these pics you can see that I just hung eveything on there. It takes a few hours to tune one of these things when you start from scratch like I did.

Once I get it all strung up properly, I’ll take some better pics and post them, but this is okay for just seeing what it will look like. The main sail, boom and gaff are the same rig that I built for the Compac 16, but here you can see I mounted this mast on the original tabernacle, and I’m running a head sail. imgp0247The one that’s on it in the pic is the working jib from the Compac. The Genoa from the Compac fits nicer though so I’ll probably wind up using that combination most of the time. I can reef the main and put this sail on for high winds.

I went to the hardware store and had standing rigging made out of 3/16 galvanized cable. They did a very nice job putting inserts in the loops and didn’t leave any sharp pigtails out on the ends. There are four shrouds and one fore stay. I’m not going to install any back stays.