Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Soldiers' Angels - Operation Outreach Christmas Adoption

As you are probably all aware, Soldiers' Angels is an organization that is doing great things to support our troops who are on foreign soil. Through them you can adopt a soldier to whom you can send care packages and with whom you can keep in touch during his or her tour of duty, or you can make donations that go toward care packages and so on. Today, I just saw that they also have another type of program, one I am sure is great support to the soldier's morale. This one is called Operation Outreach Christmas Adoption. Sounds like just another program to adopt a soldier doesn't it! Yet, this one has quite the twist. It is not a care package program for the soldier but rather a program designed to support the family of a soldier. While I imagine this is designed to support only families of soldiers deployed overseas, I am not certain if this is solely for their families so, I have sent Soldiers' Angels and email to inquire.

The gist of this program is that you adopt a soldier's family. Once you have been registered it becomes your responsibility to help out the family with Christmas diner and also with presents for the children in that family. You are then expected to give them a food gift card in an amount between $50 and $100 and also to buy gifts valued between $20 and $50 for each child in the family. It appears that you can select family size and location of the family among those available. Time is getting short for this one, Christmas is less than a month away but I must say it sounds like a wonderful way to support the troops and their families who are also making a sacrifice for our country. I think they have 600 families looking to be adopted. There is a lot more information about it here:


I am thinking of doing this myself but also may run it by my boss go see if my office might want to support a family (or more than one). If the office turns it down, I am pretty sure I will give it a shot as an individual.

All the best,
Glenn B

Sunday, November 28, 2010

True Grit - A Remake!

Heaven help us that Hollywood is so devoid of people with good original ideas they have to try to remake a classic like True Grit. I fear it is doomed to failure for several reasons, I suppose the most important being they cannot find anyone to stand as tall as did John Wayne in the original. In other words, I see problems with the casting, first just look at the arsehat who is playing Marshal Rooster Cogburn, second take a look at the trailers and check out the piss poor acting of the child actress who is just that and who is trying to play the part of Mattie Ross (originally played by Kim Darby) and look at the, in my opinion, lame metro-sexual actor playing the Texas Ranger. Need I say more. Oh well, then let me add, how in hell do they expect to improve on John Wayne? Had they wanted a current actor to try to fill his shoes, maybe there was one who could have done it but they picked the wrong guy with Jeff Bridges as far as I am concerned. I mean, are they kidding or delirious to think he could play the role and do it well. About the only guy I think would fit that part today might be Robert Duvall but I imagine him too old for the part but bet he could do it justice. Matt Damon as Le Boeuf - give it a break. Who knows, maybe I'll see it and be surprised but if this one turns out to be any good, I'll not only be surprised, I'll be amazed. Of course, this one plans to be more true to the book on which the movies were based, that means some big script changes from the one with John Wayne and while Wayne would still do it best, it may be interesting to see the film truer to the book.

All the best,
Glenn B

Soldiers' Christmas Care Packages Update

The last two packages we sent out to the soldier, Mike ____, assigned, to me by Soldiers' Angels, have been delivered. I received tracking notification from the post office about the deliveries because this time around I paid extra for delivery confirmation. The reason I paid extra is because I got no feedback from Mike ____ on the first package we sent. (Sorry, by the rules, I cannot give his last name without his consent and he has not contacted me at all.) I still have no way of knowing if package one was delivered. Apparently the second set of packages at least made it to the APO.

I am a bit concerned about this situation. In the past, all of the soldiers, to whom I sent care packages, with your help, replied to me to say thanks and to let me know they received everything. They were quite grateful. This time around, Mike has not sent me one bit of communication. He has not replied to a few emails I sent to him, has not answered a couple of letters, and has not contacted me in any way to say thanks for the care packages or even just to say he got them. I have to wonder: Is he actually receiving them? I have half a mind to hold off on sending anything else until I get some kind of email or letter from him letting me know he has received all that was sent to him.

For now, I am gong to contact Soldiers' Angels and ask their advice on this. First of all I do not want to be wasting your and my money by sending out packages that we do not know were received. Second, I am wondering if I should ask for another soldier, to be assigned by Soldiers' Angels, to whom we can send future packages since I am not sure these are being received. Hopefully, Soldiers' Angels can help with some insight on this type of situation. I certainly do not want to screw a guy who may not be able to answer me because he cannot, for some reason, get email or regular mail out to us. They may know if this is a thing that happens or not. If not, then I am going to assume it is just a soldier being ungrateful, bashful, shy or just plain unresponsive. If that seems to be the case, then I will find another who will either appreciate the packages with some thanks or at least let us know he received them. Otherwise, I will cancel sending out further packages this year and give you the refunds. Of course, I am hoping my current assigned soldier is alive and well and have been searching his name on casualty lists (because of his unresponsiveness) and thankfully I have not found his name on one of those. With luck he is receiving the packages but just cannot get back to us right now but will do so soon.

I will keep you apprised, but for right now, at least until I get some advice from Soldiers' Angels, I am putting additional packages on hold. If it comes down to it, I will refund your money right after the holidays if this is not straightened out by then. I will eat whatever I have already paid for packages that went out and will refund 100 percent of your money to you if I cannot get a reasonable solution from Soldiers' Angels. If anyone who has already given a donation may have insight on this type of a thing, let me know. If you are ansty about this and want a refund right away, let me know; since I have been paying for the items on my credit card, except for one I may have used PayPal for, I have most of the money still in the PayPal account and what little I used already will be easy to make up. I am hopeful though this will be worked out by this weekend.

For your information here are copies delivery tracking I got off of the the post office website (please note the numbers of each delivery confirmation have been deleted)

Label/Receipt Number: 0309 2880 0002 0283 XXXX
Class: Priority Mail®
Service(s): Delivery Confirmation™InsuredDelivered-->
Status: Delivered
Your item was delivered at 3:31 pm on November 20, 2010 in APO, AE 09338.

Label/Receipt Number: 0309 2880 0002 0283 XXXX
Class: Priority Mail®
Service(s): Delivery Confirmation™ InsuredDelivered-->
Status: Delivered
Your item was delivered at 3:31 pm on November 20, 2010 in APO, AE 09338.

If any of you, who has already made a contribution, wants to see the actual tracking on the USPS site, please send me an email requesting the tracking numbers. I will gladly make them available so you can see 100% of the info on the packages to include from which post office they were mailed but I will not post that info here on my blog.

All the best,
Glenn B

Oh Deer - Hunting Again: Ready, Aim...

...but never did fire. I had my sights on a good sized doe, or could have been a spike-horned buck (yes I know they have antlers but that is what they are called) and was about to squeeze off a shot when with two or three steps, at most, it was out of sight completely. I had been making my way north, along the east side of the stream that flows through the Cascade Valley State Forest when I spotted at least one other hunter headed east, maybe 75 yards north of me. I am pretty sure he did not see me, he made no indication even though I tried to get his attention. I figured it was a good time for a break and there right in front of me was a nice sized deadfall. I put my blaze orange foam cushion atop it and plopped my backside down and waited and watched. In about 2 minutes or less, I heard what I figured was a deer walking away, southbound, from the path the other hunter had just taken, and I guessed almost at the exact spot where I had seen him. I figure the hunter had walked right passed this one. The sounds continued south a bit, then turned west, crossed behind me to the west of me, then turned toward the north. It was pulling a classic whitetail deer maneuver, in essence sneakily circling around to elude a possible predator and was headed right back to the path the eastbound hunter had just taken, albeit now behind him to the west. I could hear it now and then and figured it was almost due west of me. I was right because next thing I knew and there it was in full view; this was all of 10 minutes at most after the other hunter had crossed my path and spooked this deer.

It stopped and was looking east, but I am pretty sure it did not see me but was looking for the other guy because it kept moving its head. Had it seen me and been concerned about my presence, it would have zeroed in on me. It took a couple more steps and was then not visible behind some trees and bushes. I waited, and waited, and waited at least 5 to several minutes and then gave a doe bleat. In about another minute or two after that, it reappeared broadside to me and stopped and looked east toward me and then west. It was looking away from me and was broadside to me, oh yeah. I was in like Flint - or so I thought! I stealthily raised my rifle, and had it zeroed in on its heart/lung area and was moving my finger toward the trigger when it bowed its head as if grazing, then took 2 or 3 more steps northwest and it was out of sight. That sucked!

I waited awhile, maybe 15 minutes, then tried a buck grunt and rattling it back into view. Does will come to watch bucks fight and rattling mimics the sounds of a good brawl between two bucks. Bucks will come to watch or to fight. (Last week, I rattled in a doe in that Brendan spotted but Brendan did not take a risky shot after it spooked and was trotting off. I probably spooked that one.) After a bit of waiting, maybe 5 minutes, I heard her again, making her way back toward me but I still could not see her. I was waiting to try rattling again but then I heard it coming back without more effort on my part. I saw movement and barely saw a gray horizontal form of its back. Yet, I had nothing on which to safely set my sights since the woods at that point were too thick and I was not about to shoot at something I could not plainly see. So, I waited again. A little wait would probably have it in my sights. It was all coming together nicely. I could almost taste the venison steaks.

Suddenly, a branch snapped loudly somewhere back over my right shoulder. I did not move but kept scanning the woods to the west of me looking for the deer. Then I heard them talking. The hunter who had just walked into the woods about 35 or 40 minutes before was now leaving and had someone else with him. They probably exited the woods on a trail not more than about 10 yards from where that deer was last standing. I am guessing it took off northbound or west bound since I did not see it again. Of course, it could have stood there watching them leave and not have moved at all. They sometimes do that too. Regardless, I waited another half hour for movement or noise but there was nothing. I am fairly sure she took off, probably north or westbound, when those two other hunters walked out - either way not crossing my line of sight again. What luck!

My guess is one of those hunters went in to get the other and then they both left together. Too bad, I would likely have had another chance at lining up a shot if not for them leaving right when they did. Just a coincidence, not blaming anything on them, such is hunting on public land. Oh well, humbled once again because of my lack of luck, not having the best hunting prowess and because the deer simply seem more woods savvy than me. Humble pie is hard to swallow, a lot harder than good venison, but my hopes have not been smashed yet. There is a chance I will get to go out again next Saturday and if I do maybe I will fare better. The odds will be against me though, you see if you do not bag a deer on opening day of the rifle season the odds multiply exponentially against you as each following day of the season goes by. That will be my last chance during the regular season to bag one and to have bragging rights because the following weekend I'll be on a cruise with my wife. So, if I go next weekend, I am going to try my best not to ruin the chance to be able to be braggadocios all about my success. Of course, I may not get one and once again have to eat that ever so hard to swallow humble pie.

Then again, maybe I just ought to grab a road killed deer, throw it on my car, take it to where I hunt, throw it on the ground, take pictures with it and tell everyone that I got one fair and square out in the woods. Who would know? I won't do it though, I am sure my buddy Al (a loyal reader, coworker and friend) would see right through me and nail me for it! By the way Al, 4:30, heck I only got home at 9PM. (See comments in previous post.) I tell you though, if I don't get one next weekend, I'll take you up on those burgers, but let's make it Hooters! Later for you and hopefully for a deer too - and Al, if I get one, the venison is on me.

All the best,

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Oh Deer...

...I've gone hunting again or am about to leave anyhow. Something tells me the 3.5 hour drive to my chosen spot will suck at this hour of the morning but if it puts venison on the table it will have been well worth it.

All the best,

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Day After Thanksgiving - Oh My Achin Belly

I did not take any photos, yesterday, of the culinary delights that we enjoyed. Although I wish I had done so, the mental picture I have of them and the memory I have of just how wonderfully enjoyable they tasted will not fade at least throughout next year. That is important to me because I want them to be there, in my mind's eye, when I cook again next Thanksgiving as sort of a mental go-by.

We had turkey with all the fixins. To achieve that end, my wife had left $100 with my son when she went to Germany just over 3 weeks ago. The money was meant for him to buy a turkey, a small one as per her directions, and to buy the rest of the things for a meal. Come Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving - our cupboard were bare and there was no turkey aquarium in our fridge. There was no turkey at all! Someone had not gone shopping and when I asked him for the hundred bucks he said he put it in the bank. (He actually went to the bank later and took kit out to give to me.) This left me to do the shopping because he was in bed and obviously not getting up. I headed out to Costco figuring for sure they would have turkeys of all sizes and knowing I could also pick up other things we needed for around the house. Well Costco had turkeys alright, fresh ones at that. I followed my wife's directions to my son and got a small one, in fact just about the smallest one they had. It weighed in at a mere 18.13 pounds and went for .99 cents a pound. I sort of figured I could find it at a less expensive price elsewhere but since it was the day before gobbler day, I took it.

Then I was off to the supermarket to get the rest of what we needed for the big meal. I grabbed 5 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes, a Spanish onion (never got used), 3 bunches of scallions (used 2), some string beans, a loaf of bread, a package of English muffins, 2 packages of sliced almonds, a bag of cranberries, and two types of tart apples (the last 5 items for the stuffing) and some other stuff and headed home. I spent just over $50 at the supermarket, just enough to qualify for their sales on turkeys. Buy $50 worth of groceries and get a turkey for .29 cents a pound. I would have saved over 12 bucks had I shopped here first for the bird. I was tempted to buy one anyway but knew there would be no room in the fridge for 2 turkeys, so settled for getting the fixins at that store. Sleeping beauty was up when I got home and he helped me throw everything into the fridge, it was crowded in there. hen I rushed off to JFK Airport to pick up the other half and our daughter. The 2 Chihuahuas accompanied me as meet and greet team members. We were at the airport all of 2 minutes when I realized that the big board showed their flight had arrived about one hour before we got there. That would be about one hour early. With Immigration and Customs and waiting for baggage, they had not yet left the baggage claim area and after a brief 10 minute wait - there they were. As soon as I saw them, I went into stealth mode by crouching down. I told the dogs 'they are over there' but the dummies didn't pick up their scent. So we snuck up from the side, and were spotted when only a few feet away, by Celina. Linda and Celina were very happy to see the dogs and even I got a kiss from each of them (from the ladies not the dogs, the dogs were busy kissing the ladies).. We were off to home in no time and ten hit the wall. The wall was traffic on the Belt parkway outside the airport. Nothing special for the holiday crunch, just regular, everyday, miserable, bumper to bumper traffic moving at about 5mph. Well maybe it was for the Holiday, it was only just after 3PM. Usually this stuff holds off til 4 around there. The traffic broke up after a few miles and we were on our way on the city streets. Less traffic on the streets is why the traffic had broken for us. As we drove along and talked about this and that, I realized I would need to hit the supermarket again. I stopped at one along the way and got those things and they we jetted home.

Yesterday, I was up early then went back to bed. I had it all planned, that is my cooking regimen for the day. I would get up at 9, bake an apple pie, make the stuffing, stuff the bird, cook the bird once the pie was out of the oven, and cook everything else while the turkey was in the oven. Wound up, I had to cook the bird and the pie at the same time, thank goodness for double ovens. As for the bird, it was supposed to be fresh, but when I pulled out the gizzards, I found that the inside of the bird was frozen. Not frozen solid but crunch from ice in the meat. Home Depot to the rescue and I guess I did have a turkey aquarium of a sorts for an hour or so. I filled one of those Home Depot specials, an orange 5 gallon 'Homer bucket' with hot water and put the bird in their for a warm-up. Worked like a charm. As that was thawing out, I threw the stuffing together.

The stuffing was made up of several slices of potato bread, a couple of English muffins, a bagel (all allowed to go stale and then broken into small pieces), about 2 Granny Smith and 2 Macintosh apples cut into small chunks, 2 bags of sliced almonds, a few handfuls of dried cranberries (very raisin like in consistency), 2 bunches of cut up scallions, poultry seasoning, allspice, cinnamon and about 1 stick of butter. The butter was that in which I sauteed the scallions and almonds (just a bit for the almonds or they will burn) before mixing them with the other ingredients. I then took the bird, patted it dry inside and out, stuffed it, closed it up, coated it with a light covering of extra virgin olive oil, rubbed a good amount of salt onto it, and threw it into the preheated oven! I was on a roll because I had gotten all of this done and the kitchen was still clean and I was happy. My wife dreads when I cook because of me making a mess and me losing my temper if some little thing goes wrong. Everything was going right, I was making sure of that and it was a breeze because as the guy said in Monty Python's Search For he Holy Grail: "I'm getting better". I cleaned as I went along and just kept myself under check and kept it that way for the few hours it took to get it all done.

he bird went into the oven at 10:30. The apple pie went into the lower oven about 2 and a half hours before the bird was done. The wife cut up a few of our crop of squashes and made 3 different dishes with them, one with some of the potatoes mixed in. One tray of that went into the oven on the rack under the bird and the other two took the space in the bottom oven once the pie was done. As all this was going on I cooked up the remaining stuffing in a frying pan on the stove top. Of course that meant more butter - mm-mm good. After about an hour or a bit more of cooking, I realized the bird was already browning. Since it would need another 3 to 3 1/2 hours in the oven, I tented it with foil and soon started to baste it with Spaten Oktoberfest bier. I basted it 3 times and took the foil off with about an hour to go. It wound up getting nice and golden brown all over. No nigthmares here - Gordon Ramsey will never need to come to my kitchen to make things better but he would be welcome any day and I would gladly take cooking lessons from him. As it is now, I am self taught with a good cook book at hand and always have liked to watch others cook. I guess it sank in and that was evidenced by the meal yesterday.

At about 3:15 yesterday, while sitting at the PC and sending out emails, I suddenly realized it had been awhile since checked the bird. Whoops, it was probably ready at 2:45 or 3. I checked, it was ready, took it out and let it sit for about 20 or 25 minutes. I was concerned it had been in too long and would be dry. Linda put the finishing touches on the veggies and by the time she was done, I was carving. Some of the the white meat crumbled a bit, probably could have cooled a bit more before carving, but we were hungry so I kept at it. We sat to eat, just the two of us because Celina was at her beau's parents' home and Brendan was working. Just as we were about to chow down, who comes in the door but Brendan. He had his break timed perfectly and got to enjoy dinner with us. It was ever so enjoyable too. Good company and good eats - not much better except maybe if you add good drink but for some reason all I imbibed up to and through the meal was a sip of bier while basting and a glass of OJ. The turkey was moist and it skin was crisp. Both were delicious. The stuffing from the bird was wonderfully aromatic and tasted great. The pan cooked stuffing was also great, that had more butter, a bit of bier and a bit of apple juice added along with an extra Granny Smith apple. The squash was good, but not what we had expected. That was not due to Linda's cooking - it was due to the squash itself. Was supposed to be butternut squash but grew much bigger and must have been another much less sweet variety. With what Linda had added to spice it up though, it was yummy enough for us. The beans were crispy and delicious - nothing fancy there - just steamed but great.

The dogs ate when we did, I did not want them begging at the table. They enjoyed their regular dry dog food smothered with pan drippings and basting liquid and mixed in with the innards and with some white and dark meat. I boiled the organs to make sure they were well done. I had a few bites of heart, liver and gizzards - mixed it in with my stuffing and had some plain - and all was delicious. The dogs were wild about it and ate with gusto. They will be hoping for another meal like that for awhile before they get one - probably around Christmas.

After dinner, Linda and I cleaned up the remaining mess, did the dishes and put away the leftovers. Then we sat down for a slice of homemade apple pie. I am no pastry chef but have been know to be a fair to good baker and did not disappoint this time. The pie filling was made up of Macintosh and Granny Smith apples, a good amount of both cinnamon and allspice, and two small handfuls of sugar. The crust was simply flour, shortening, water and salt. It was truly delicious.

Once all that was done, I made up a plate and headed over to see my mom. My timing was off by about 2 hours, mostly because the bird had been partly frozen and needed to be thawed, so when I got to my mom's she had already eaten. I am pretty sure she will enjoy the dish I made up for her sometime today. We spent a couple of hours together and it was time to head back to the castle. I got sidetracked though and stopped first at a local purveyor of fine spirits and had a couple of Jamesons on the rocks and a couple of Heinekens too. Spent a few hours at the bar and only got home after midnight.

Today, all I can say is oh my achin belly. I ate way too much yesterday but certainly did not eat anywhere nearly as much as I have in past years. Still though, I think I grew a bit rounder just from one meal. I am looking forward to doing more cooking.I have not been at it all that much in recent year, I lost interest, but after eating what I cooked yesterday I see I need to start enjoying my own cooking again. I may try baking a couple of loaves of bread this weekend. I make a pretty good bread, heavy, chewy, hearty - one of this mushy soft white bread type junk from my kitchen. Gotta go, time for my breakfast - I finally have some room for it. I hope your Thanksgiving was at least half as nice as was mine!

Later for you,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Give Thanks For People Like This And That We Find Them Among Ourselves

Here is a link to an article about an American to whom and for whom owe thanks. I am thankful to him for his sacrifice, he lost a son. I am also thankful to him for his outstanding service to the sons and daughters of others in our military. We all ought to be thanking him and others who serve. We owe them all a great debt of gratitude and we owe thanks that they have been placed here among us.

All the best,
Glenn B

Happy Thanksgiving...

...to all here in the good old US of A, regardless of religion, nationality, ethnicity and so on. This is a holiday for all, not only a Christian Holiday as some believe it. After all, the native Americans who celebrated it with the Pilgrims were not Christian. Granted, George Washington was Christian and it was he who proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving thus in essence establishing this as a national holiday and as a day that we should all be thankful to our creator for what we have been given of earth's bounty. It is truly amazing how few times George Washington is brought into the picture by so called historians when it comes down to his influence on our nation celebrating this holiday. They simply seem to forget all about him and the proclamation (click on image to enlarge to readable size) he made, on October 3, 1789, in the capital of our nation - New York City. Many people today seem to think that the official Thanksgiving holiday was created by Franklin D. Roosevelt. That is simply not true; he simply set the day as the fourth Thursday in November.

Regardless of how or why it was first celebrated and then turned into a national holiday, I have to say it is absolutely my favorite current national holiday. It could only be surpassed by Halloween and Ground Hogs' Day if they were ever made into national holidays. In fact, the bestest all time holiday of forever is absolutely Ground Hogs' Day (love the movie too). One of these days, when that little booger sticks his head out the hole, I am going to blast him and have woodchuck for dinner (yes there is some influence from Caddy Shack there).

But I digress, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Tomorrow, I will be busy baking apple pie, making the stuffing (bagel, potato bread, whole grain bread, English muffin, tart apples, green onion [scallions], sliced almonds, cranberries [used to use raisins] and lots of butter with hints of some spices like cinnamon added to the mix), preparing and cooking the bird (all 18 plus pounds, the wife did say to get a small one and that was the smallest one they had at Costco today) and possibly making some of the side dishes (although the missus may be doing that). We have a load of butternut squashes left over from our garden and I am hopeful she will make her recipe of that, it is out of this world delicious. I will also be imbibing some finer spirits as I do so. After our dinner, I am going to visit my mom and bring dinner to her.

I always enjoy Thanksgiving. It is truly one of the finer celebrations of them all and one that all should celebrate even if not religious. While most will give thanks to God for what they have, you can also give thanks to nature, or even to your bread winner, for the good things provided to us.

Enjoy your day, enjoy your dinner, hopefully you are spending it with loved ones as am I. For me, the only thing that can make the day better is if they show The March of the Wooden Soldiers (originally called
Babes In Toyland) on TV and I get to watch it; it was a Thanksgiving Day regular all throughout my younger years. Already corny by the time I was a young child, it was released in 1934 over 20 years before I was born, but it was and remains one of my all time favorite movies. Now that I think of it, I may have to check NetFlix to see if I can download it. Of course, Thanksgiving is not complete without also listening to Alice's Restaurant if you live up this way. Local NYC radio stations used to play it every Thanksgiving, and probably still do, at 12 noon. I get a kick out of this song; it is a good one and then again its views of the draft and pointless wars do agree with my views at that, though probably not for the same reasons. If you have never heard it, give it a listen but mind you it has strong liberal political overtones. It was a pointed barb aimed at the government and the draft and later seen to have been aimed at conservatives even though liberals started the war and prosecuted and escalated it then tried to blame it all on the conservative who ultimately ended it. Typical liberal BS to do that but the song is a good song. Mind you also, it is a long song, a really long one at about 18 minutes.

Thankfully, Babes In Toyland has no overt political overtones even though it deals with war of a sorts if only on a fantasy level. Mostly, and more importantly, it is simply a nice story about right winning out over wrong and about being able to tell the difference between the two. It was from a time when it actually may have been simpler to tell that difference while Alice's Restaurant came at a time when it was not so simple. Alice's Restaurant makes you think about right and wrong too, it's just not quite as easy to decide what is right and what is wrong while listening to it. Whatever, both are or were Thanksgiving traditions for me - then I grew up. Funny, I still like them both but as always, I like The March of the Wooden Soldiers best. It too bad it is not always as easy to tell the difference between right and wrong in the real world as it was in Toyland. Yet, each Thanksgiving, I am thankful that I have mostly gotten it right throughout my life.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Glenn B

Speaking of TSA...

...a friend sent me this image in an email today and I thought it to preciously funny not to share it with you. It is a collection of TSA bumper stickers. Click the image to enlarge it.

All the best,
Glenn B

My Chance To Interact With TSA...

...as a regular airline passenger, as opposed to me flying armed as an LEO, will be coming up in about 2 weeks or so. My wife and I are going on a cruise and we will be flying to the cruise departure city. Since the cruise is going foreign, I will not be armed. It is likely I will not carry my federal credentials either. So, I imagine, with the black cloud that follows me, I will be randomly selected for whatever is the full extent of a TSA search at that time. Should I or my wife need to be searched, then all I can hope is that the TSA personnel will act professionally and courteously. I have had some dealings with pretty unprofessional TSA personnel when flying in my official capacity but those are the exceptions, most - the great majority - are very professional. Lately, with all the fire they have been under, from the very same people they are trying to protect, they may be somewhat on edge by now.

As for me, I do not agree with current TSA search and profiling policies and procedures. I would much rather see them do things a different way, as a matter of fact I would much rather see TSA disbanded and private concerns take over their role. That being said though, I will abide by their security protocols for my flight, that is too a point. I will not allow myself to be scanned. I have spent way too much of my life around airport x-ray machines and receiving x-rays in doctors' offices and had way too many sunburns as a kid. Various forms of cancer have afflicted my family members. I do not need any excess radiation. If need be I will opt for the patdown.

Being that I have been an LEO for over 31 years now, I know how to perform a proper patdown. I know the difference between a legitimate patdown and improper groping. I will not stand for the latter but in truth I do not expect it. I think many folks who are patted down have over reacted when describing how they believe they were improperly groped. I do believe though that it is quite possible that they may have been searched in violation of their rights in some instances. Plenty of people have complained of TSA agents placing their hands inside their garments and touching skin. A patdown does not include reaching into someone's under garments and feeling their private parts from the inside of the clothing, a patdown is done from the outside of the clothing. About the only exception without first having PC or or having already detected something from the outside, for reaching inside, is that during a patdown an officer is allowed to feel the inside of the waistband. A patdown also does not include the removal of any clothing except for things like a coat and shoes. You keep on your pants, shirt, socks, etc. Removal of clothing is a strip search and requires certain legal elements. If it is going to go beyond a patdown for me, you can bet I will require, with courtesy and respect for the TSA agent, that they do it in a private area where others cannot watch. If they decide to do a strip search you can bet they best have probable cause to do so.

Of course, they will not have any cause to search me, not within reason anyway, so I do not anticipate anything like what I just mentioned. I do not have any prosthetics, do not have any metal inside my body like pins or screws or hip replacements, will not be carrying anything that will set off any alarms, will not be acting suspiciously, did not buy my ticket at the last minute, will not be nervous, will not be antagonistic, will not be carrying any prohibited items in my carry-on luggage or in my checked luggage and will have my itinerary with me. I will act reasonably and respectfully, and will expect the same toward me.

If I have any problems, I will not act like an asshole. I will maintain my composure so as to be able to get on my flight because I want to go on this cruise that was paid for well in advance. It is only the second cruise my wife and I will have been on and the other was to Canada, this one to warmer climes. I will note everything that is done improperly, that is if anything like that is done but again - I do not expect it. I will note badge numbers, names, descriptions of those involved. I will request a supervisor if I think something is improper. I will request a manager if it needs to go beyond a supervisor. I will contact an attorney if I am harassed and I will also contact my representatives in Congress and the head of the TSA and their equivalent to their Internal Affairs office. all that only if something happens that is really an egregious violation of my rights. again, I do not expect such but if it happens their is recourse. I will not scream and moan and argue at or with the TSA screeners. I will not make a scene. I will not call the press. I will not post videos on FaceBook or YouTube or Twitter about it.

That is my plan should my rights be violated or should I be abused in any manner. If something like that happens I will truly be shocked but I will let you know.

All the best,
Glenn B

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Checking Out of Motel 6 Binghamton - Maybe Forever

I am about to check out of my motel and head home. This time around, as in almost every time I needed an inexpensive motel on my hunting trips, vacations or whatever, I opted to stay at a Motel 6 for at least part of my stay. I say for at least part of my stay because this time Brendan and I spent 2 nights at Holiday Inn in Binghamton. I had just enough points in my Priority Club membership, with a few hundred left over, to get us a free room for 2 nights at 15,000 points a night. Almost all gone now, I think I have just over 300 points remaining. Probably no free nights next year unless I use my Visa card an awful lot. Holiday Inn was nice this time around, nice clean room, decent restaurant - better than when I stayed there a year or two ago and had a horrendous night in a room where the window kept blowing open and the heater was screwed up and other things that were annoying.

Back to Motel 6 though. Most Motel 6's I have stayed in over the years have had fairly nice, clean but spartan motel rooms. Spartan is the keyword for all Motel 6 rooms as far as I can tell. What would you expect for a motel that charged about $10 a night the first time I stayed there back in 1979. Now they charge just under $40 for a single person (at least that is the rate in Binghamton, NY). For that you get a bed or two, a small table, a clothes rack, a mirror, a dresser or dressing shelf, a television with cable channels including one HBO station, air conditioning and heat, and a bathroom. There may or may not be a pool at your choice of Motel 6. The one in Binghamton does not have one I have ever seen.

As said, the Motel 6's at which I have stayed have been clean for the most part. I do not like seedy motels though I have stayed at a few more, over the years, than to which I would care to admit. A few of them have been Motel 6's. One was in Fogelsville (...berg?) PA and it was, in my opinion, an out and out dump. I remember then staying at the one in Binghamton a short time later and how happy I was that in years past it was clean as a whistle. I commented on that to the lady behind the desk back then and told her i had recently had a bad experience at a Motel 6 and that it was the dirtiest motel I had seen in many years. She told me she could guess which one, then proceeded to correctly name the Motel 6 in Fogelswhatever, PA. She explained that not all Motel 6's are ACCOR Motels but some are franchises where they paid to use the motel 6 name. The franchises, according to her, did not have to live up to Accor Motel standards and therefore often gave a bad impression of Motel 6 in general. I always checked, after that, to assure any Motel 6 at which I stayed was an Accor Motel. The one in Binghamton used to be one; now I wonder if it stillis one.

The Motel 6 in Binghamton, NY, in my opinion, has nose dived in quality control. The place is not what it once was and is long overdue for an overhaul. Last year or the year before, I stayed here and the carpet in the hallways was bunched up in places; you could easily trip and fall due to it. I complained to management about it. Guess what was the first thing I noticed on this stay. Same carpet, all bunched up in places. Plus I noticed the carpet was filthy or so it looked to me. The carpet in my room was also pretty dirty. Inside my room I also noticed dirty spots on the walls, cracks in the bathtub, no stopper in the bath tub or bathroom sink, leaking faucet on the sink (when you turned it on it leaked out of he top onto the countertop. Some of the light bulbs flickered, when i checked I found them to be only partially screwed into the fixtures. Tightening them corrected the problem but why did I have to do that!

I had a room with 2 beds (just in case Brendan would have decided to stay a night or two beyond the two nights he was with me at Holiday Inn). I turned down one bed and the sheets and pillow cases were creased and rumpled, one pillow case appeared to me to be somewhat yellowed, and one pillow case was only about 1/2 the way on the pillow. The sheets were not tucked in on the side of the bed. All looked as if someone had slept in this bed then the bed was hastily made without putting on clean sheets and pillow cases. There was also a hair on the bed and it was not mine. The other bed looked as it it had been properly made with fresh sheets; of course, I slept in the clean looking one.

I made a complaint, on Sunday night right after I saw it, to the front desk clerk. She told me she would alert the manager the next day. No one got back to me on it. Well, yesterday when I got back to my room after hunting, I figured no one even checked on it as it appeared the same exact sheets were left on the rumpled looking bed and once again the covers just thrown over them. I also noted that while the bathroom had been cleaned somewhat, the throne had not been cleaned. I called the front desk this morning to tell them to prepare a refund of two nights as I am checking out two days early (they charge your card upon arrival for the whole stay). They said - no problem. In a few minutes I will find out if there is a problem or not. They will find out that I will no longer be staying at Motel 6 in Binghamton and may not stay at another Motel 6 dependent on the reply I get to the letter of complaint I will send to Motel 6 corporate (Accor Motels).

Not only were the above things at issue but I asked for a room at a specific section of the motel and they got that wrong going in the opposite direction down the hall from the room I wanted. When I asked for it to be changed at check-in, the clerk told me 'that is the room they gave you' and then looked at me with what I thought was a pitiful but dimwitted look on her face. I should note that yesterday morning, when I went to the lobby to grab a cup of coffee while waiting for a tow truck (a whole other story that delayed my start hunting yesterday be a few hours), I heard a clerk complaining to another about the lady who had worked the night before not getting anything right. The lady they were complaining about was the clerk who checked me in. One of the complaints was she did not even know enough to turn on the light for the Motel 6 sign one it was dark. The sign was dim while she was working as I suppose were her wits.

All in all it was not a good experience. In my opinion, Motel 6 in Binghamton used to be a bargain but now I think it is just a dump, another seedy motel I would not care to stay in again. Of course that is all only my opinion, maybe other people still like it but I am spending my money and my opinion is what sways me to spend or not spend at any given business. Motel 6 Binghamton is not getting my money again until they improve markedly.

Holiday Inn, on the other hand has improved markedly since I had a problem there a year or two ago. My last two stays were pretty nice there. Thing is, I cannot afford a few days to a week at Holiday Inn for each of my hunting trips. I suppose next year Brendan and I can stay at Holiday Inn a couple of nights and once he leaves for home, I will stay at a less expensive place, maybe Comfort Inn. Time will tell.

All the best,
Glenn B

The Deer Win Again

I wish I knew what it is that I have been doing wrong. Seems to me I have been doing it the same way I did it when I bagged deer with some consistency but there must be something different because I have not gotten one in years. Heck, I did not even see one from any of my stands this year and I even stayed out a few hours in the rain yesterday. Brendan, he was another story. At least he saw one even though he decided not to shoot. I must have done something right there, I rattled that one in - just never saw it. Oh well, more on deer hunting in a future post and maybe more hunting this coming weekend, and the next weekend and the next if it takes that long. I have until December 12th to get myself some venison! I am hopeful Brendan will tag along at least once more - he is the best hunting companion I could have with me at any time.

All the best,

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Young Sensible & Responsible Hunter & A Safe Shooter...

...would certainly be a fitting way to describe my son while on his hunting trip out in the woods today. He handled his rifle with the utmost care and that means safely at all times. That included when he saw a deer that I had rattled to within shooting distance. I did not see the deer, even tough it apparently passed in front of me first. When Brendan saw it, it seemed it may have spooked slightly and was trotting past him into the underbrush. He said he could have taken a shot but did not want to chance a shot at it because it was moving away at a trot. He has been deer hunting about 3 times now, not gotten one yet, was very anxious to get one today, saw one yesterday (the day before rifle season opened) so was even more anxious, but yet had the restraint to hold off on taking a risky shot that may have resulted in an only wounded and lost deer - or worse - in a stray shot. As he told me, one shot - one kill. I have got to hand it to him and have to say I think he deserves an 8 or 10 pointer for his first deer.

I also have to hand it to him for not slipping and falling on his arse like I did today. I turned, looked at him once the pain subsided a bit, and said he must have gotten a bit of a laugh seeing me go down like that. He would not answer me but did have a bit of a telling smile on his face at that moment.

Tomorrow is another day, well about 5 hours of another hunting day for Brendan. He has to leave early. If he gets one, I will leave at the same time. If he strikes out, then I will stay to try to bag one myself. I get to stay until as late as Wednesday if I want.

All the best,
Glenn B

Friday, November 19, 2010

Redundancy - It Can Be A Good Thing

re·dun·dan·cy   /rɪˈdʌndənsi/ Show Spelled
[ri-duhn-duhn-see] Show IPA

–noun, plural -cies.
1. the state of being redundant.
2. superfluous repetition or overlapping, esp. of words.
3. a redundant thing, part, or amount; superfluity.
4. the provision of additional or duplicate systems, equipment, etc., that function in case an operating part or system fails, as in a spacecraft.

The word is a big part of my hunting system. If you were to see me when I pack my car to go hunting, you might think that I was going for a month or at least that double the amount of people were going on my 5 to 7 day trip. Some years, I have thrown so much gear into my car so that it was doubtful that a deer would have fit in there had I bagged one. No, I am not one of the guys who drives around with a deer on the roof of the car, I have it cut up before I start my homeward trip and then put it all in a cooler or three - so it has to fit in the car. I guess the coolers are a good place to start. I bring two with me when I remember them. One makes a great gear holder on the trip up, the other holds lunch and snacks. Of course, if I get a deer I have to dump everything out and then fill them with frozen venison for the ride home Yes the guy who butchers it also freezes it). Notwithstanding the redundancy of having two coolers along, if I actually get a deer, two likely will not be enough and I'll probably have to buy a third cooler to hold it all. Nope, my coolers are not the biggest! If Brendan fills his tag, he will have to figure out something for himself - like maybe spending some of his own cash this time around for a cooler or three.

The cash department, now there is something concerning which I think almost everyone would agree - redundancy is a good thing. More cash on hand is almost always good.I bring along enough for what I expect to spend on the trip, then try to double it. The doubling of the cash, like the doubling or tripling of the coolers, is relative to the cutting up of the deer. It is darned expensive to have a deer butchered. When I started hunting seriously, over 25 years ago, I soon learned that if I had squirreled away enough cash for food, beverages, lodging (not always needed since I often had a place to stay on my uncle's farm), gas for the car and change for the tolls (pre E-Z-pass days) and whatever else I might need to get me through - it was not near enough if I bagged a deer because I had to have it cut up. Back then it cost a whopping $25 to $35 but bear in mind that gasoline was probably .50 cents a gallon and everything else was dirt cheap compared to today's prices. Now it will cost me about $125 for one deer to be cut up; so much I am tempted to bring it home whole on the top of my car or propped up in the passenger seat, and try to do it myself with a hand saw, a cleaver and knives.

Knives, there is another thing on which I double up or even quadruple up for my hunting trips. The knife is one of the most basic formed tools that humans have ever used yet, regardless of how basic, it can be one of the most useful tools in our possession at any given moment. I would hate to be out in the woods, driving in my car, or even riding on the subway without one. Being out on a hunting or fishing trip without one could simply ruin your day. I mean what is I do shoot a great trophy sized deer and then reach for the hilt of my knife in its sheath and come up empty handed. 'Heck, where is my knife', I wonder. Then I remember feeling like I got stuck while walking through some heavy undergrowth and as if a bush had grabbed me on my right side about a half hour before while still-hunting. I literally had to violently jerk my body to get free. Must have been that the knife somehow got pulled out of my sheath then; probably never find it now. Oh well, I reach into my right hip pocket and come up with a good folding knife. I proceed to field dress the deer without having to worry that not doing so in a timely manner will lead to ruining the meat or the chances of having the head and cape mounted.

When hunting or hiking, I make it a point to carry at least two knives and many times carry three. One is almost always a straight edge and the others are folders. There are plenty of other reasons like the one given above that could cause me to lose a knife. So, I almost always carry more than one while afield. About the only reason I do not have more than one would be because I forgot one or both, or lost one somewhere along the way. I am much less likely to wind up with no knives if I make it a habit of carry two or three at all times when out and about in the fields, forests or on the water and come to think of it when pounding pavement on city streets too.

Speaking of pounding the pavement, I sometimes do a lot of walking while hunting, sometimes not. Almost every time I hunt though, I wind up crossing water. Waterproof boots or not - my feet often get wet. I find one of the best fixes for this, when hunting, is to change to dry socks. Of course, I wear wool socks while hunting and wool will keep you warm when wet but I don't think it does as good a job when soaked. In addition, wet socks cause your feet to get that dish-pan hand sort of look and are much more prone to getting blisters. A change of socks or two is usually in my back pack when out hunting or hiking - wet socks be darned!

The topic of getting wet naturally leads one to think of water. Here is something you need a lot of during the course of a day. Water hydrates you, helps keep you comfortable in both hot and cold temperatures, and can help stifle bouts of coughing. These are all very important considerations during a hunt. I usually carry at least three bottles of water while hunting. I also carry a Camelback pack with a hydration system. Depending on what I am doing, I may or may not fill its bladder. When hiking out in AZ, I always filled it and also carried a couple to few bottles of water with me. When hunting or hiking here in NY state, it depends on how much walking I'll be doing. On this hunt I will probably only bring along 3 to 4 bottles of water. Note, I could carry all that water in the bladder, so why don't i do that instead of carry 4 bottles? If you have ever fallen while hiking and landed on your backpack, you may realize you can burst the bladder. I could also burst the bottles but with 4 of them chances are one or more will survive the fall and I will still have something to drink. Not so critical where I will be hunting, there is a lot of water around, unless of course I fall far from water, break a bone and have to stay put a night or more in the woods or under the desert sun.

Ah, the sun. It brings up another concern. If it is bright and making it hot, or behind the clouds and allowing it to get cold, or if it is rising or setting and causing glare - there is one thing that can make life easier for you - a good hat. I carry hats for warmth and to help prevent glare. The hats I usually carry are either weather proof, water repellent or will keep you warm when wet. One of the best hats I carry in my pack is a boonie. It helps keep my head dry, helps somewhat to keep it warm, and definitely helps to fend off glare. I also carry a watch-cap or two while hunting, mostly just for warmth but at least one of them is waterproof and keeps my head and hair dry. While fishing I often wear a ball cap. Hats are easy to lose because they can blow off your head in high winds or just be left behind if you take a break while hiking. I try to always carry 2 hats with me while hiking or fishing and usually three while hunting.

All this duplicity can wind up making a back pack pretty heavy when you consider that not only do you have your basic pack fillers but you have doubled or tripled up on a good number of them. When hiking, my day pack weighs in at about 20 to 30 pounds, much of the weight change depending on how much water I have along. The thing is, with what have along, if I did fall in the wilderness and say break a leg, I could probably survive for several days to well over a week on with what I have brought along with me and remember that is stuff in my day pack.

The only drawback I have ever encountered, besides it being heavy for an older middle aged fat man to carry, is that because it is so heavy I wind up making way to much noise in the woods to still-hunt. So I thought once upon a time. Now, after years of carrying a heavier day pack, I realize that it is okay to lug it along as long as I do everything right while out there stalking game. Things like taking 4 to 10 steps at most then waiting for about 15 seconds to as long as a minute before taking another step. Believe me, after a couple of hours doing that the 20 to 30 pound pack weighs a ton but I would rather have it with me so I can enjoy my lunch inn the woods and if need be so I can live to see another day in the event of some sort of accident. Speaking of lunch, did I mention I also pack some extra food...

Heck, is it that late already? I've got to go pack all our gear into both of the cars we are taking this year. Nope, I do not always take two cars on a hunting trip, just this year Brendan has to be at school on Monday and if we do not already have a deer by then, I am staying upstate a few more days. By the way, I planned to leave earlier this morning, that is until someone came home at 3AM snockered. He is still asleep but will get dragged out of bed in about another minute. Later for you, I have some dragging to do. All I can add is thank goodness we are not redundant about who is till sleeping, otherwise we may never get going.

All the best,
Glenn B

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's Hard To Say Goodbye to A Friend...

...especially difficult when it is for the very last time. Today, many of us did that, we said goodbye to Mike T. So too did many a family say goodbye to a beloved husband, father, brother, uncle... Many of us, myself included, shed some tears - it was a rough one. We will miss Mike a lot; the truth be told, I miss him already. I take some solace in the fact that his sendoff was truly a heart lifting one, probably well over 250 people at the church and as many as 150, or more, at the cemetery. The amount of support for his family, from his coworkers, was truly humbling and astonishing. He was that kind of a guy, he made his mark on others and it was a good one that will probably prove to be long lasting.

Me, I am still finding it hard to believe he is gone and I suppose that many others who knew him feel likewise. I know that his family feels that way even more so; how could they not. The thing is though, even though he may be gone, he still lives on - I do not doubt it. The priest who said the mass told us about eternal life in Heaven. He also took it a step in another direction and reminded Mike's children of the importance of family because Mike lives on in them forever as long as they pass on his loving ways to their children and so on.

I am not much of a religious guy. I believe in a higher power, a supreme being, but not in any conventional church going manner. I also believe in eternal life of a sort. I take solace in a song, one I've posted here before. I need to post it again if for no other reason than it helps me remember that each time I see a single drop of rain I should think of Mike and others I have known who are gone from this world as we knew them. The song, in their absence, makes me think of those whom we may think are not with us any longer. Truth is they may be there right next to us. They are with us everywhere, all the time, with the song playing or not. That is, if we just care to see them, even in a single drop of rain. They'll be back again and again and again.

Happy trails my friend, until we meet again.

All the best,
Glenn B

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Wife & Daughter Are Away, The Men About To Go Hunting, So What Could Be Better?

Yes, we seemingly have got it made. The two of us have had the house man castle all to ourselves for almost two full weeks already. We have lived like real men and enjoyed it. We eat when we want, clean the dishes when we want (or should is say I clean them when I want)watch what TV we want, sneak a snack when we want,fart when we want and for the most part just goof off all the rest of the time. Of course, there have been our four constant undisciplined pains in the neck our lovable and well trained dogs. My wife gets up and takes them out early every morning and sure enough the biggest one has come to me somewhere between 5:00 and about 5:45 every day for me to let her and the others out. I would not mind much but she licks my face to wake me each time she comes to get me. I guess I should take even dog kisses when I can get them , after all the wife will be home in a week and that will be the end of them.

Seriously now, we have been having a good time and mostly keeping the house in good order. It had better be in good order this Thursday when my mother-in-law arrives. As I look around, from where I am sitting right now, I can see that may take some doing. The place needs to be vacuumed. I am guessing the leaf litter all over the living and dining room floors would not be appreciated by a woman as much as we men seem to enjoy the autumnal decor. The dogs seem to drag it into the house when they go out to do there potty thing in the backyard - which reminds me I had best clean up out there. Yes I walk the dogs, have been walking them frequently but not quite every day (the 2 1/2 to 3 hours back and forth to work each day really cut into my time) but I also let them out back when I am short on time. As for those leaves, I suppose the wind has blown quite a few into the man cave castle house when I have left the door open for the dogs to come and go. They sometimes pester me incessantly as when I am on the computer or trying to watch TV or while I have been readying hunting gear for the trip later this week. Yeah, maybe I ought to vacuum tonight! I mean with us not having vacuumed in almost two weeks it is beginning to look so much like like the forest floor we might soon start attracting wildlife! I would hate to wake up tomorrow and find deer pellets on the dining room floor but then again maybe it would save us some gas we would have used to drive to the hunting grounds. Nah, never happen - not a deer within scores of miles of our place. Oh well, too bad for us. Okay - vacuuming goes on the list of must do's.

When I look around a bit more, I see we need to throw out some shipping boxes and a lot of junk mail. It has all sure been piling up. The boxes seem to have been here almost the whole time the gals have been gone and they just keep multiplying. My son received a big box of shooting accessories, I received some ammo, a couple of pairs of boots (both pairs going back for a refund since neither one fits), and we have received at least one or two other things. Of course, if my wife was home they would have been thrown out either by her or by me because she would have pestered me into doing it long before now. As usual, I was thinking of using them for this or that and just left them laying around trying to think of something useful to do with them. Out they had best go before the mother of she who must be obeyed arrives for her 4 day stay to watch the dogs while we men are on the traditional November hunting swaray.

As for the kitchen, which I cannot see right now, it is pretty clean - well except for the stove top. That needs a good hosing down cleaning off. I wonder, what is best to clean a range top? Maybe I can squirt it down with Gun-Scrubber or brake cleaner. On second thought maybe a sponge soaked in warm sudsy water and some elbow grease might be better followed by a few squirts of Windex and a bit more elbow grease. Sounds like a job for my son. Okay add that to the list to do before the Oma gets here.

As far as dishes go, let me just say that the dish washer has been getting a workout. I often do dishes by hand when the wife is home but since they seem to pile up quicker when she is not around, I have been depending on the dishwasher. Someone at work, yes it was another man, told me using the dishwasher saves money and energy instead of constantly running the hot water (as we men do when we wash dishes). I can see the logic in that and besides the dishwasher does a darned good job of it and I don't wind up with dishpan hands! As it is tonight, my son got into the act and he started the dishwasher all by himself. I am proud of him - he is getting it!

As for me and the son, we have not seen much of each other for the past 2 weeks even though we are the only two in the castle at this time. We do meet now and again at strategic locations throughout the castle such as at the refrigerator, trying to get to the shower before one another, when he is coming in and I am going out, or when I am coming in and he is going out, and an occasional chance meeting now and then. Only about three times have I had to knock on his door to see if he was up and getting ready for school and he already was up and at em. I suppose we have met at the fridge more than anywhere else that being the source of nourishment and cold beer chilled liquid refreshments.

We did have a chance last night to go over the game plan for bagging our game this coming weekend. He was nice enough to stay home to watch the dogs on Friday when I went upstate on my final scouting trip of the year, when by the way I got permission to hunt on the farm my uncle used to own . So, I made sure to show him some aerial maps of the area in which we would be hunting and to describe the layout to him in detail to give him an idea before we actually take a look at it on Friday and hunt on Saturday when the deer season opens.

Somehow, by tomorrow at the latest, I have to grab hold of him long enough to convince him that he should vacuum upstairs and I will do the main level and the basement. Then a quick spiffying up of the kitchen and the bathroom and we should pass inspection by anyone's mother-in-law. Not that mine will really be inspecting, I just want the place to look nice and clean for her when she gets here so she does not get any ideas about having to clean up the place herself. Hey wait a minute, I have an idea...nah better not even think of it!

Oh well, tomorrow and Wednesday should be somewhat busy days around here. If you happen to pass by my place and see two people in aprons, well let me just say it will not be me and Brendan but probably be the maids we hire to get the job done!

All the best,

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ballseye's Gun Shots 101 - Preparing For The Hunt, It's Not Just About Your Gun

Brendan and I will be going deer hunting later this week. If we have any luck we will each bag a deer and maybe one of us will get a bear. Both extremely nice on the palate. With those high hopes in mind, I have been busily getting ready for the trip.

I drove up to the farm that my uncle used to own, stopped to see the current owner and asked for permission to hunt there. I think was about to tell me "no" when I added that I had stopped by last year to ask and she said 'no' then but told me to try again this year. That and a smile was all it took. We have permission to hunt on her farm, about 150 acres. We will only be hunting on the side across from the house and barn and open fields. it is mostly wooded but has a lot of deer trails and a lot of deer sign. I know about the deer sign, because once I had gotten permission I asked if I could also walk the property that day.

I headed across the road from the house, crossed a stone damn that holds a pond in place, and set out into the evergreen forest. After a short walk, maybe 100 yards at most, I was on the edge of the other side of the evergreens and about 50 yards from a rise going up to a ridge. The area I was in, as I well knew from hunting there for many years, is a natural funnel for deer on that side of the road. It is somewhat clear therein and in an area of about 40 or 50 yards by about 70 yards, I counted about 20 piles of deer droppings, most of the pretty darned fresh. The deer walk through this area to go to a lawn like area and some apple trees. They come down the mountain on a few different trails that converge on the northern end of this spot and either walk out through the evergreens the way I had come in or walk to the south end of the farm property and then head east to the grass and apples. I doubt there are anymore apples on the trees but to tell the truth I did not look. Regardless of apples or no apples, the deer use this area with some frequency. This is where I set up a stand for Brendan to hunt. I just marked off the area with hunter's orange tape and left it at that. Oh, I also set up a drip bottle full of Buck urine over a mock scrape. Traveling a bit further north to an even more open area, I banged a right and headed about halfway up the mountain to a spot I knew that bucks often came through in the past. I have not hunted her in about 8 years but there were the rubs, some on the same trees as had been used in past years. It was not a surprise to me, I know the lay of the land pretty well on this farm; it would have been a big surprise had I not found deer sign where I expected it.

All this deer sign does not guarantee anything except that deer have been there. There is no guarantee they will be there again,at least while we are hunting, and no guarantee we will see them even if they are there, and no guarantee we can bag one or two even if we see a bunch of them. Over all the years I hunted there, I am guessing I bagged about 8 to 10 deer there. That was in a period of about 19 years of hunting there once I moved back to NY from CA. I saw deer more often but did not shoot for one reason or another, the road or house in the path of the bullet should I miss the deer, a doe and I did not have a doe permit, the deer were too small (born the same year I was hunting), or they got spooked or just never got close enough for a shot (I almost always hunted with my shotgun so needed them about 50 yards or less). I am hopeful that this year, with us hunting on a place with which I am pretty familiar, we will not only see some deer but that Brendan will get one in his sights and that his aim will be true.

I am digressing from the getting ready for the hunt part, so allow me to get back to that. Most of yesterday, I got hunting clothing and gear ready for the trip. I did about 6 loads of laundry including all of our coats, rain gear, hats, and all other outer clothing we will be wearing while hunting. I also did some of the regular wash, heck am doing more of that as I type. As each load was in the machine, I set about making sure most of all of our other gear was in order. I packed a day pack for Brendan to include essentials he possibly would need in the event of an emergency. So far his pack contains:

His license back tag attached to the back of the pack

A pen (for license requirements if we get a deer or bear)

12 to 15 sheets of paper towel sealed in a Ziplok plastic freezer bag (stronger than toilet paper and just as soft, has many uses the most important being hygiene)

8 or more high energy food bars (like granola but the chewy type)

A first aid kit

A folding knife

A knife sharpener

A flashlight

Several extra batteries for the flashlight

A self adhesive Ace type bandage (this thing can have many first aid uses beyond a sprained ankle or wrist)

A space blanket

A plastic poncho

A Compass

Glow Sticks (some 12 hour duration, other shorter duration)

A few packages of hand warmers

A deer grunt call

A bottle of deer scent

A bottle of odor blocking spray (so the deer don't smell us)

Two packs of deer cleaning gloves

waterproof/windproof matches in a sealed container

An emergency whistle

Extra wool socks (in a plastic freezer bag)

An extra hat

A blaze orange safety vest

Extra gloves

Nylon cord (to make shelter if needed)

A walkie-talkie type portable radio

A couple to a few bottles of water will be added on the day of the hunt. And some other items will also be added. Being that we expect to hunt only about 100 yards from the road this year, we or you would not likely need all these items but if an accident happens, that requires you to stay out in the woods overnight or longer, you can bet you would be happy to have them. So I always hake such things with me. I had a small but full backpack on Saturday on my scouting trip. Yesterday, I also started to get the stuff ready for my pack which will include a few more items than what I mentioned above.

I still have a lot of stuff to get ready including the guns. Before I handle the guns though, I will, actually already have, packed the deer scent. I have several bottles of it this year - in fact too many. I bought some, forgot I bought it and got some more. I plan to use only one or two bottles on opening day. One is doe estrous scent from a single deer. It as a whopping $15 for one ounce. (Imagine getting rich selling deer urine.) The other is a bottle of buck urine. One is to attract the buck to a mate, the other is to get him there in a hurry and in a wired emotional state because he thinks there is a rival there for the same mate. One has to be careful about not getting either scent on ourselves as Whitetail Deer have been known to attack hunters who had deer scent on their clothing. The bucks sometimes get so enraged and or enaged during the rut (mating season) they are blinded by both love and jealousy- so to speak.

Then onto the guns. Getting them ready will include a cleaning tonight. I like to have that done at least several days in advance of the first day of hunting so residual smells from gun cleaning solution or oil will be less strong than if just applied. I also need to make sure we have the correct ammo ready to go. Nothing could ruin an opening day as much getting to your spot, then going to load up, only to realize you either forgot your ammo or brought the wrong caliber - well that is unless you forgot your gun. The shotgun and whatever rifle(s) we bring along on this trip will get placed into silicone gun socks before going into the gun cases. We will at least have a long arm apiece and I will probably bring one extra just in case one of the others has a problem. I will also make sure to bring along a gun cleaning kit and I will probably put that into my gun box along with some tools, cleaning solution, oil and so on.

Once done with them, I will waterproof my boots, probably also tonight, well in advance of being in the woods. (I bought new boots online, even got two pairs one in my size and one a size larger but neither fit, both too tight, so I am using my old pair again.) Of course I have other things to get ready. I need to fill up the cars with gas tonight. I do not want the smell of gasoline on my hands for at least a few days before the hunt. We are probably taking two cars this year because Brendan only has a day and a half to actually hunt. If we don't get lucky and bag a deer on the first two days, then I will stay a few more days to try to get one. If we are in luck right away, then I will leave when he does on Sunday, or who knows - maybe I will go bear hunting.

You get the idea, don't you? If you are going hunting then you should be just about ready to shove off at least a few to several days before the season opens. That way there is no last minute searching for things, no last minute fumbling with things, no mistakes because you were in a hurry, no aggravation because you left two or three hours later than you should have, no accident or ticket because you were driving 25 mph over the speed limit to make up time, and there will more likely be a pleasant trip to your hunting area and some fun days out in the fields or woods.

All the best,
Glenn B

And Now For Some Man Cave Dietary News...

...I just had a wonderful breakfast I have been up since 5:08 AM to let the dogs out but only got a chance to eat now - just afternoon. There is not all that much in the fridge ready to be cooked, even the bacon is in the freezer. Normally I might make some eggs and toast, coffee and a glass of OJ. I have eaten way too many eggs over the past week so I decided to make something else, something healthy. Today the only regular thing I had for breakfast was the OJ. The rest of it consisted of about 8 slices of good Genoa salami, two slices of lacy Swiss cheese, two pieces of whole grain bread and enough butter to grill it in when put together to make a sandwich. (in other words enough butter to clog an elephant's arteries in one day).

All I can say is man was that ever so delicious. Not quite as delicious as the leg of lamb, broiled potatoes smothered in olive oil, garlic and salt, and steamed carrots I had for dinner last night but pretty delicious anyway.

This afternoon, I have to get some vacuuming done, then visit my mom, then go grocery shopping. Life without a wife - for 3 weeks - not so tough and I like my own cooking and will continue to like it as long as it does not kill me.

All the best,

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"...small things that you remember, the little imperfections that make them perfect - for you!"

Mike T., a coworker of mine and someone I considered friend, a pretty good one at that, passed away yesterday. He was recovering from cancer. He was back at work and seemed to be doing okay but had a number of other health issues. He died peacefully in his sleep possibly from a heart attack shortly after coming home from the doctor's office. It was a shock to me and all who knew him and of course mostly to those who loved him the most - his family. He leaves behind a wife, son and two daughters.

He was a good man, and I mean that, I am not saying it on the spur of the moment due to emotions or because he was my friend. From what I know of him, I know that he always meant well for his family. Like all parents and husbands - he had his times of difficulty with his wife and kids but I know for a fact he loved them all very much and was very proud of his children and only wanted the best for each of them. I also know he was a good honest worker who got the job done and did it well at that. Add to that, he was a good friend to many. Finally he was not the perfect man, he had his little imperfections, he probably had some big ones too, maybe ones that don't seem so big to anyone right now but he certainly was a good man despite any imperfections or maybe because of them.

Today, I got something from another friend, Pat. Pat did not know Mike. There was absolutely no connection between them of which I am aware; that is except one. That one has got to be one of the most shocking coincidences I will ever experience. You see, Pat sent me an email today and attached to the email was a video called The Funeral or maybe just Funeral. Uncanny it came at this time of grief. I almost did not open it. Then when I started to watch, I thought it was a joke and I almost turned it off because I was in no mood for jokes about losing loved ones. Then I realized it was no joke and soon enough tears began to flow. I think, even had I not just lost a friend, the tears still would have run down my cheeks while watching this. It is one of the most, if not the most, powerfully emotional short videos that I have ever seen. I cannot believe the timing my friend Pat had in sending this to me but coincidences happen.

Watch it, it is pretty short, only just over 3 minutes. Learn about relationships, about love, about being married, about family, about imperfections of those for whom we care, about how we remember loved ones when they are gone and how much we will miss them. Watch it and learn something too about how we should treat them while they are still with us - because in the end we will miss them and things about them we could never have imagined would become important to us once they were gone, the imperfections that made them so uniquely special.

I have watched it, several times now. I think I have learned something from it. What about you!

I will miss Mike and his sometimes seemingly caustic but truly friendly mannerisms. He often addressed me as "Hey Fucker". The first time I heard it I thought I was about to be yelled at for something or another, he seemed mad as hell - then he grinned at me and all was well. Thing was, when he called me that, it always was in a friendly way even if at that first moment it seemed a troubling tone. I will miss many things about Mike but most of all, I may miss that about him, his calling me "Hey Fucker". While it only was a two word greeting, the way he said it, followed by his warm hearted smile, said it all about his sharp intuitive wit and his warm hearted intentions behind that sharpness. I guess it could be seen as one of his little imperfections, an imperfect way (to some) to express affection or friendliness; but for me it was one of the little things that made him perfect. I am all that much a better man for having known him.

To his family, I wish them strength and togetherness at this trying time and throughout the rest of their lifetimes. Remember him as a husband, a father, a dad, the guy who tried to his best for you all even if it meant you got to see his imperfections at times, and as someone who loved you all very much and who saw you as the perfect family - for indeed that is what he was and how he felt for you.

All the best,
Glenn B

Video For and About Veterans

All the best,

Friday, November 12, 2010

Soldiers' Holiday Care Packages 2 And 3 Are In The Mail

As it turned out, I could not fit all the items shown in the post below into one box at the post office today so I sent it all in two packages. One box contained just the cigars and the other box contained everything else listed in the previous post. Of course, that set me back almost double what it would have in postage had I just bought another box but then I would have had to pay for a bigger box and would not have gotten flat rate postage. I probably would have saved something doing it that way but I was pretty flustered after some nasty bitch customer at the post office gave me a face full of grief because I actually had my two boxes on the counter top in order to pack them and then write out the labels, customs declarations, delivery confirmation and insurance forms. We had a little verbal confrontation and I then ignored her but my boiling point already had been reached and I was not thinking straight about the boxes. Besides that, I was on my way upstate to scope out a hunting spot, and was already running a few hours late, and did not need to be there longer by having to wait on line to buy a box and only then be able to pack the stuff. I just grabbed the flat rate boxes, stuffed the things into them, made sure they were well padded and taped em up, mailed em out and was on my way.

Hopefully these will arrive within the next few days and hopefully my assigned soldier will acknowledge that he received them. This time I used delivery confirmation so even if he does not contact me, I should find out if they were delivered.
Thanks again to all who have contributed so far.

All the best,
Glenn B