Friday, December 29, 2006

...And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow....

Recognize the line?

Sam McGee...

The wind, she's been a blowin'!
25 to 35 knots the last two days... and according to NOAA it's going to get worse, not better. I'm starting to work on social-engineering a ride back to KW on the Seaplane when I go. Riding the Yankee Freedom (a/k/a "Vomit Comet") is not such a great idea right now.

Two good things- First, the rain has stopped.
Also, with the winds so high we haven't had any Cubans come ashore.

On the flip side of the coin, these conditions bring on other issues...
The strong winds have brought us lots of Physalia...
(No, not my car... Real Physalia physalis... Portugese Man O' War.)

And with so many of the bright blue By-the-Wind-Sailors, we get lots of visitors with horrible stings...
Today I saw the worst one I since I was a kid back in Marathon... A visitor snorkled straight into one today.
The woman had a 4" by 4" burn patch on her left shoulder where the body of the creature hit her, then at least 5 long lines of welts from where the tentacles (dactlyozooids) hit her and zapped her with nematocysts. The welts went around her shoulder and across the front of her body and down to her hip.
(The poison is a neurotoxin, so the Rangers try to monitor stung visitors to make sure they don't go into anaphylaxis.)
Each day so far we've had at least one serious sting... Not a good thing.
We've posted signs on the beaches, the tour guides warn the visitors, but we still get at least one good hit every day.

Another change is that the seagull population is getting very agressive.
These white-feathered rats-with-wings are dropping down on the visitors as they carry their lunch plates from the serving tables to the picnic tables to eat.
The visitors either drop some or all of their food, causing a flurry of activity from the 40 or so gulls that are hovering overhead.
The lunch crew from the Sunny Days and the Yankee Freedom have to stand guard over their tables- the Sunny Days crew is on station with a long handled net, and the guys on the Yankee have brooms to shoo away the birds-
If they relax their guard for just a moment, the birds will land directly on the lunch table and grab food...
Gazing into my crystal ball I can see an informal seagull euthanasia project coming up...

What else...?

I guess that's it for now...

Film at 11.

Famous! out-

(PS-- Want to learn more about the Portugese Man O' War? Click here.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Back to the Dry Tortugas (again)...

I started the year out here...
Jan 2006
Seems only fitting that I should end it out here too...

I rode out on the Yankee Freedom... We had a 20 know wind out of the Northwest, so we were quartering a good chop. Once we hit Rebecca Channel, things got positively ugly... 6 to 8 foot seas. Not pretty at all...

The remnants of many a Christmas dinner were strewn about the cabin...Nasty
I hid up in the wheelhouse with Capt. Brad. (Not Morgan)...

At one point one of the crew came up...

"Good news and bad news, Capt'n." he said.
"Well...Gimme the bad..." Capt. Brad said.
"Bad news: There is a huge gaping (is there a different kind?)
hole in the left pontoon." said the wrenchmonkey.
"What's the good news?" Brad asked, nonplussed.
"All that water pouring into the hull has put out the fire in the engine room..."


TBG out.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Only in the South...


Wish I'd thought of it first. Heh.

Famous, out-

MY favorite Christmas carol...

...Yes... it's that time of year again.
When we drag out the same old wheezy stand-bys to sing along with,
everyone in their own key, of course, to bring joy and happiness to all.

Carol of the Bells, by Skippy.

As the old saying goes, "Everyone brings joy to others...
Some when they arrive, others when they leave."

Famous, out-

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Okay, I'm not reading any more food blogs.

In theory, Tofu does strange things to you...

"Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products."

And other studies confirm that not enough tofu might be bad for you, depending on whether you are an Asian female...

(Of course, I know of a few super-competitive hyper agressive world leaders that could use a nice big glass of soy milk every morning...)

Now... the question arises:"If soy is so harmful as to potentially alter sexual physiology and behavior, why haven't the Chinese and Japanese all died off or become homosexual centuries ago?"
Jim Rutz wades into that little poser here.

Oh, these nutritional and gastronomic conundrums!

Famous, out-

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

This is just so wrong...

There are no words to describe this...

Is it safe to view at work? Probably.
Would it be difficult to explain? Definitely.

Famous, out-

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Geez. Another 30 points on my HDLs...

I thought the Fried Coke was going to be a bite in the ass...

Now they come out with Chicken Fried Bacon.

Famous! & Extra crispy. Out-

Notes on a fridge (on a spaceship)

Firefly/Serenity Fans:
(And if you're not, you should be...)

A collection of notes on the 'fridge aboard Serenity...

Great stuff... I love the artwork.

TBG out-

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Wings and Shotguns

Every year after our company Christmas Party we have the day off.
Sometimes we play golf, once we went bowling, and occasionally we go out to the North Florida Gun Club and shoot a couple rounds of skeet or trap.

This year, we gathered at Hooters and chowed down on wings and weak American beer, then headed up to the Northside.

It was cold. I mean really cold.

Jim and Zack, waiting in the 30 degree chill for their turn to shoot...

Andy Doremus at Station 5. Watch out for ejected cartidges...

Yours Truly at Station 6.

Ben, Zack, Croc & Jim. Slowly freezing to death...

Just one bit o' advice for the Croc...
When you call for your target, wait until you actually see the target before you fire the shotgun.

Preferred method:

Croc method:

The clay pigeon laughed and waved as it flew off to the north...

We had a great selection of guns- Ben was shooting Ron H's Mossberg 500 riot gun, Jim had his Benelli Black Eagle, I brought my Beretta a390 and my Stoeger, Eric had his pump Remington, I think...

Not pictured, but still in attendance...
Eric Geisler, Ryan "Tommy Boy" Laird.

325 12-guage rounds later we departed...
Even with the 20 mile per hour winds and temps in the high 30s, we'd had a great time.

Famous, out!

Lake Effect Snow

K-Flan and I had late morning flights out of Cleveland...
(His on Southwest, mine on Continental.)
Weather reports were showing "lake effect" snow on the way in the morning.
(Is lake effect snow supposed to be less snow-like than regular snow? Snow Lite?)

Lake effect or not, the cold white stuff was on its way.

We decided to get on the road early...5:00am was the agreed-upon time.

It was already starting as we were getting on the road.

Big fat ugly flakes. (Just like in California.)

Lots of traffic...

...and more traffic.

Keepin' it at 50... Fortunately I had reserved the SUV with 4WD.

Hey... why are those headlights facing this way?"

I thought all the Yankees knew how to drive in the snow...

Finally! The airport.

Uh..y'all are going to clean all the snow off that plane before we take off, right?

No...Seriously. Please get the ice off the wings...

Well... We made it back. There was a 45 minute delay for deicing in Cleveland, and another 30 minutes ground delay in Newark, but we did make it.

Got back to Jacksonville just in time for the weather to drop into the 20s here.
Nice. But at least there is no snow...

Famous, out.

Pennsyl-bama, continued.

Franklin PA is a tough town to enjoy, especially in December.

K-Flan and I were attending Bacou-Dalloz/Miller Fall Protection training...

I won't bore you with the details of the class, (I'll bore you with other stuff- Heh) but I will say if you are in need of training for fall hazard recognition, risk evaluation and fall hazard control, take this course. Great stuff.

For some odd reason, Mr. Flanagan didn't like the nameplate on his desk.

Now, after a long day of principles of fall protection and regulatory requirements and application of theory and practice, we needed an adult libation.
(Not to mention it was bloody cold!)

Just to be sure to stay out of trouble, we parked at The Hotel and walked to the bar.

Oddly enough- even after the episode with Drunk Chick and Green Teeth, we returned to The After Hours... (You know, I'm really starting to see the truth of Proverbs 26:11...As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.)

Well... Fortunately the DC and GT weren't there, so it was a peaceful night...

We even met the absolute nicest bartender, Lori, there.

It is very possible that she is the best-looking girl in Frankin...perhaps even in all of western Pennsylbama.

After putting a serious dent in the local supply of Captain Morgan, we wandered home.
The temp on The Banks clock read 20 degrees...
I will say that the cold weather does lend a festive air to the holiday season.

Downtown Fraklin

We did stop at one other bar in Franklin...

I'm a little concerned with the entertainment at some of these places...
In Jax Beach we have Karaoke or trivia contests.

In Franklin, however...

Bring a partner. Right.

One drink and we split...

Amazing, out.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Uncle Jay's Pulled Cork

A week or so ago I made a pulled pork that, by popular acclaim, was one of the best I had come up with thus far...

So... By popular demand:

Uncle Jay's Pulled Cork.

(Coca-cola & Pork Shoulder)

4-6 lb pork shoulder (butt).
(I used a boned and rolled shoulder, but bone-in is OK, just a little more work when your are shredding the meat.)
1 large yellow onion
2 large cloves of garlic. (don't use the pre-minced stuff here.)
1 packet of McCormick Grill Mates (R) Mesquite Marinade
1/2 to 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 20 oz. bottle Coca-Cola (The Real Thing.)
Olive oil. (Whatever you have, regular, virgin, extra virgin...hell, I don't care.)
Salt (kosher, of course)
Black pepper.
Non-stick cooking spray (unless you like scrubbing the sides of your slow cooker)
All-Purpose Flour for dusting the pork prior to browning
yellow mustard (optional)


Get your slow cooker out.
Get a large frying pan out.

Quarter and slice the onion.
Peel, crush and coarsly chop the garlic.
Spray the sides of the slow cooker with cooking spray.
Pour a little olive oil in the bottom of the slow cooker.
Add onions and garlic.
Add GrillMates Mesquite Marinade
Pour in Coca-Cola
Turn on "low" heat

Unwrap pork shoulder and dust with flour, salt and pepper.
(put a handful of all purpose flour on a paper plate with a tablespoon of kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roll the pork in the flour/salt/pepper mixture.)

Turn stove on high heat and in the large frying pan add olive oil (a couple tablespoons).
When it is good and hot, add the pork shoulder and brown it on all sides...
You're looking for a little brown crust on all sides and ends...
Should take no more than 10 minutes to do the whole thing.
Once browned, move the meat into the slow cooker.
(Lower it in carefully. A slam-dunk would be inappropriate here.)

Lid the cooker and wash up.

Cook time 8-10 hours.
(I put mine on at 10PM and at 7:00 am I was shredding the meat)

Next steps:

After the cooking time is expired, remove meat from the slow cooker to a cutting board and give it ten minutes to rest.
(It's been swimming for a long time, it going to be tired.)

While the meat rests, start your sauce.

Take all the "pot-likker" for the slow cooker and put it in a large pot over med-hi heat.
Add brown sugar (to taste) as the mixture reduces.
(Also add yellow mustard here if you want just a little zing)
Stir frequently
Reduce sauce to half original volume.

While sauce reduces, pull pork.
With 2 dinner forks, pull the cooked port into long shreds, the meat should just fall apart.

Put the pulled pork back in the pot. When the sauce has reduced to a nice thick sweet sauce, put sauce back in the pot with the pork.
Mix well. Leave heat on LOW.
(Reserve some sauce for dipping or dressing sandwiches)

Serve with cole slaw and soft rolls for making sandwiches.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Travels with K-Flan Redux

What, exactly, did I do to deserve this?

There was an e-mail I recieved while still in Shanghai, which I had read while doing Other Stuff and promptly forgot about...

We're sending you and K-Flan to a fall protection training course in December.
Get it on your schedule."

So... On Monday last, I'm wandering through the office like a lost child and a claw-like hand grabs me and drags me to the IDS Travel Desk.

"Hey... Big Guy. You. Me. Cleveland. Monday week." K-Flan says, in his usual I'm-too-redneck-to-use-articles speech patterns.

"Huh?" I cleverly replied.

"You know. Fall protection. Pennyslvania."

"Uh... OK." I said. "Continental has a non-stop to Cleveland. I'll drive from there."
"Pittsburgh. Closer." he said.
"Pittsburgh is a two-hop on, heaven forbid, US Scare. Not gonna happen. Continental."
"Are you sure?" said Travel Girl...
"Make it so." I told her.

Here we are a week later, lake effect snow falling all around as I try to pilot the Chevy SUV into the arrivals area at CLE, and I'm searching for K-Flan, hoping he's not being detained by the airport police. He had come in on Southwest, similar price, but a three-hop... I guess he's a masochist (Look it up) or something.

Anyway... Here we are again. Yours truly and the Redneck. On the road again.
The first words out of his mouth as he got in the rental car...
"This $@#%&! weather is unfit for man or beast."
"Which is precisely why they sent us. Duh." I told him as I filed a flight plan out of CLE and headed west toward the Garden Spot of Western Pennsylvania, Frankiln.

2 and change hours later we pulled into Franklin...and let me tell you, I've been in some backwater burgs in my time, but Frankiln is a piece of work... It's barely a wide spot in the road out at the corner of No and Where...
We found a spot for some dinner before checking in to the hotel... a picturesque little joint called The After Hours... Restaurant/Bar/Poolroom where we had dinner and abuse for under 20 bucks...
There was a line in an old Charlie Daniels song about "an old drunk chick and some fella with green teeth"... Never thought I'd live to see it, but here we were...
Green Teeth and Drunk Chick were shooting pool... More like just moving the balls around with the sticks than "shooting", as a certain skill level is required, but let's just call it shooting and be done with it., shall we?
The old drunk broad was talking at K-Flan between "shots", and when he couldn't understand her slurred speech and started ignoring her, she got loud and belligerent...
Her old man tried to quiet her down... "Hey... those guys are either cops or bounty hunters... leave them alone. We don't need trouble."


Well... We finished our dinner and things were getting pretty weird...
Drunk Chick sat at the the other end of the bar and every once in she'd look over at K-Flan and I and loudly yell something unintelligible....
"Rassth! Yarnohght! Shhhhhurght!" and then Green Teeth would come over and sush her again...

We finally bailed on the place in order to go check in at the hotel...
As we left Green Teeth sent us off with a blessing...
"Jesus loves you!" he said "Everone else thinks you're assholes." he finished.

You know things are bad when both bartenders, the cook and two other patrons of the bar all apologize to you for the bad behavior of others...
Very scary.

Seems like there is only one of a lot things here...Lots of use of the definitive participle "the"... The Traffic Light, The Bar, The Statue, The Taxi, The Prostitute..We headed to The Hotel... The Hotel has a lounge where Monday Night Football was on, so we got checked in and headed down for a nightcap and to watch a Carolina beat up on Philly for a bit...
We discussed Green Teeth, Drunk Chick and the rest of the local denizens we had encountered...

"Dude, based on the local flavor of this place, I'm thinking we've fallen into a twilight zone place... Backwater as any place Down South...maybe worse than most...I think were in Pennsyl-bama..."
These people make K-Flan look positively sophisticated....


The white stuff is falling still...
It's going to be a long week here in Pennsylbama...

"... I was almost to the door when the biggest one
Said, 'You tip your hat to this lady, son!'
And when I did, all that hair fell out from underneath."
Charlie Daniels - Uneasy Rider

Stay tuned, I'll keep you posted.

Famous, out.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I have no problem with that...

....Go ahead, discriminate against anyone who acts like this...

6 Imams Kicked Off Plane Gave Crew Several Reasons to Be Suspicious

(Original story on FOX here)

Sunday , December 03, 2006
By Cassie Carothers

Six imams were kicked off a US Airways flight last week in Minneapolis for committing several acts of suspicious behavior, not just because they said their evening prayers before boarding the plane, a police report shows, contradicting earlier media reports.

US Airways manager Robby Taylor Davis told police three of the six imams had one-way only tickets and only one passenger checked luggage. He also said in the police report that most of the six requested seat-belt extensions typically used by obese people despite being thin.

Also, a passenger on the plane who speaks Arabic heard the group mention Saddam Hussein and criticize the United States' involvement in Iraq. The passenger, whose named was redacted from the police report, said he saw two of the men take seats in the front of the plane, two take seats in the middle, and two more in the back.

Minneapolis police, along with U.S. Federal Air Marshals, decided the collective behavior of the group was suspicious enough to detain the men and question them.

Earlier reports only said the group had been seen praying loudly before the flight, and the group was removed after a passenger passed a note to a flight attendant bringing attention to the group, and did not include details on the other suspicious behavior of the imams.

The imams, who were returning from a religious conference, were detained and questioned before being released shortly thereafter.

"Pauline," a passenger on the flight who didn't want to give her real name for fear of her safety, said she thought the it was a stunt to garner media attention.

"They were so poised and ready to go to the press. By the time I arrived home from the airport ... they were already announcing on the news that they were being discriminated against," Pauline said on FOX News' Hannity and Colmes.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, four airlines accused of breaking federal anti-discrimination laws settled with the government. Transportation Department investigations found the airlines had unlawfully removed passengers because of perceived ethnic or religious backgrounds.

The Transportation Department received a complaint about the US Airways incident on Monday from the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said spokesman Brian Turmail.

"We're going to now look into the matter," Turmail said.

The Homeland Security Department's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties said last week that it was investigating the incident.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ok... So, one of two things is going on here...

These guys are trying to get air time for their cause... Which is fine with me.
Arrest them and shine a flashlight up their asses like the TSA does mine when I get "detained for questioning" because I forgot my Leatherman in my bag... If you want the pulicity, then you have to pay the price...

The second possibility is that they are just stupid...
Even if you have only HALF a brain, you know not to do things to call attention to yourself in/at airports or on airplanes... If they are THAT stupid, they have no business riding on a mass transit public conveyance. They need to be on a short bus going on public outings with a cadre of keepers and handlers that make sure they don't make messes on the floor.


I'm not sure which fits the bill more...

Let me get this straight... They think they are being discriminated against because of these shenanigans. People are supposed to think nothing out of the ordinary is going on when they see this?...


Someone please tell me WHY a group of Arabic men acting in this manner don't deserve the rubber-glove treatment...and if the airport/airline sees this behavior and doesn't act on it, I would have HUGE issues there.

Especially considering how many times I have been stopped/questioned/violated just for being a technician and having the tools of my trade on my person.


TBG out.