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Archive for the ‘epic life’ Category

So here we are, it’s time for camping again.

Awesome.

I love the time spent with friends and family about a campfire, relaxing and swapping stories.

Then again, this past weekend was in the mid 40’s, windy, and drizzling with a cold soaking rain the whole time we were there. You know, that kind of weather where even your bones are starting to ache?

Well, that was this weekend.

Here, let me show you around the place.

Here is my house, at least for half the weekend. It finally gave up the ghost in the Friday night windstorms. A replacement was then purchased at the nearest wally world, which I failed at taking pictures of.

 

Here is my kitchen for the weekend (well, that a fire pit, and a grill). Note: the 25 foot trailer with the deck is not part of my campsite, though I envied them with their furnace.

 

Last but not least the trucks that took us there. My pair of old Jeeps. (one to haul gear and the other to haul firewood for four families)

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Now, I didn’t come here today to show off my awesome collection of mismatched coolers, or to post the past rites of my 10 year old tent (may it rest in peace, or more likely in a landfill).

I came here to talk about one of the most important aspects of camping.

You can have all your friends with you, have a week in the campground with no lost or broken items (or people), you could even have that iPhone app that pours unlimited beer, but if you don’t have good tasting easy to cook food your trip will be a bust.

Guess what we were all talking about Saturday night?

Not about the cold, or the recurring drizzle, or even about the laundry list of things we thought about bringing with only after we were there.

We talked about lasagna.

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Here I think I am going to give a day in the life, though I don’t have all the pictures I thought I took. You see, Apparently I had consumed several adult beverages by then, and took many pictures of my thumb.

You are stuck with whats left.

Don’t like it? Well then come camping with me next time and take your own pictures. =)

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For starters we have breakfast. (go figure right?)

Saturdays choice was eggs in a bag. Tastes good, easy to make, virtually no clean up.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 eggs per person.
  • half a handful of shredded cheese per person
  • 1 sandwich or quart sized zip top freezer bag per person
  • any other fixins you would normally put into an omolette, diced or minced as needed

In my case I was having a simple ham and cheese omelette.

First things first, get yourself a big 'ol pot and boil yourself some water.

 

My fixin's. Eggs, shredded cheddar, diced ham, and a bag.

 

I put it all in the bag (it is eggs in a bag, after all)

 
 

Then I proceeded to squish it all about till it looked like the uncooked omelette that is really was, just make sure you get most of the air out of the bag while your at it. The kids love this part.

 

A ten minute or so visit to the big pot of boiling water is next on the agenda.

 

Once the time is up, pull the bag out of the pot and enjoy. You can toss them on a plate if you choose, or do like I do and simply eat it straight from the bag.

 
Will, that takes care of breakfast. What should we do for lunch?
 
Remember that big ‘ol pot you boiled I boiled my eggs in? Well, it’s next in line to get what my wife likes to call “crazy soup”. It an old camping favorite since just about forever.
 
Do I have pics? Well, kind of.
 

This might be a picture of me boiling the eggs, or cooking the soup, or perhaps boiling the lasagna noodles. Either way we will pretend that there is soup in the pot for now.

 
 
 
Crazy soup is pretty easy. You take one can of any kind of non-cream based condensed soup for every 1-2 persons, add in a can of water per can as well, and boil it. In our case we had chicken and rice, minestrone, beef vegetable, and two cans of garden vegetable.
 
It was awesome, and especially welcome in the chilly weather.
 
last but not least was the dutch oven lasagna. It came out pretty good, and was actually really easy to make.
 
Dutch Oven Lasagna:
 
Ingredients:
  • 3  Cans of tomato sauce (or spaghetti sauce) 16 oz each
  • 2 lbs of ground turkey (or beef I suppose)
  • 2 lbs of Italian sausage (I used turkey for this as well)
  • 2 lbs shredded mozzarella cheese (finely shredded works best)
  • 2 lbs ricotta cheese (others use cottage cheese, I prefer ricotta, your mileage may vary)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 lb lasagna noodles

 

Equipment:

  • 14″ dutch oven
  • skillet (to brown the meat, or do that at home)
  • large pot (to boil noodles)

Instructions:

Brown the meat, set aside.

Mix the cheese and eggs, set aside.

Boil the noodles, set aside.

Build the lasagna by placing first a can of sauce, then alternating layers of meat, cheese, and noodles, with another can of sauce at the halfway point. The last layer will ideally be the last can of sauc topped by cheese. (usually I reserve some of the mozzarella to make sure.)

Put the lid on and cook with coals top and bottom for about 45  to 55 minutes.

I suppose you could use a regular pan in the oven too, but this is about camp cooking after all.

It goes well with toasted garlic bread, but I’m sure you could figure that part out without help.

So who wants to go camping?

I’ll cook, you take the pictures.

 

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This is a post about the death of Osama Bin Laden.

Before you read this be advised, I am going to piss people off. If you would prefer that one of those I anger not be you, you may just want to stop reading.

Here is a puppy picture as a consolation prize.

A tired puppy after a nice walk about the neighborhood.

 

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Still here? Well, I warned you.

In the remote event you have not yet heard, Osama Bin Laden was killed by US troops during a raid a few nights ago. Details are sketchy at this point, but I do believe that he was killed. (Though I am sure that Donald Trump is now going to start asking the President for Osama’s death certificate…)

In so much as he was a leader, planner, and financial backer of a terrorist organization that is actively at war with the United States I don’t have a problem with the attack.

There are some already stating that he should have been taken alive, brought back for trial, and then executed. There are those stating that because the man appeared to be unarmed that the mission was more of an assassination than anything else.

I was not there, I will not question the judgement of the men who were.

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No, the entire operation did not bother me in the least. In fact I feel a sense of relief that the man is no longer out there assisting in the murder of more people, whether from my country or some other.

What does bother me is the way in which some of my countrymen have celebrated his death. Dancing in the streets, jubilant as though their team just won the world cup.

I see these flag draped people chanting USA-USA-USA and celebrating. I expect to see things like that in Somalia as the locals are dragging helicopter parts (or worse) through the streets. I did not expect to see that here and it disturbs me deeply.

These people are celebrating the death of a human being.

A man who has done terrible things, it is true. Still, he was a human being.

A human being that was killed in front of his family for actions he undertook because he believed he was doing the right thing.

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Yes the man was a terrorist.

Then again, by the current definition so were my countries founding fathers.

I am not in any way trying to justify his actions, or to condemn those of my government. I am simply drawing a parallel.

In war there are always at least two sides, and every side thinks they are the good guys.

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Yes, he would have killed me and my family simply for the crime of being born in America.

Yes, had I been the one with boots on the ground in his compound I would have killed him as well.

It’s war, declared by both sides.

In wars people die, your objective it to make sure it’s always the other guy and not you.

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While I am glad he is gone, I refuse to celebrate death.

If that somehow makes me less of a patriot then so be it.

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I have been doing a lot of thinking lately.

Real thinking, beyond things like “what am I going to cook for dinner”.

I have more and more found myself thinking about what if.

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It all started innocently enough. I was working on ideas for my NaNoWriMo project, when the thought just occurred to me.

What if, one day, in one fell swoop, every oil well on the planet simply dried up.

No warning, no decades of preparation, just dry.

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In my story I was going to have science develop a bacteria that eats oil. You know, something to pour into the water the next time an oil rig blows up. Something that sounds like a good idea, right up until it turns out to be a bad idea.

In the case of my story, the bacteria had spread and multiplied beyond what it was designed to do and essentially ate the world’s oil supply.

The reasons that my mind was taking a walk down Apocalypse Lane are really not important though, at least not now.

More important by far is what I saw when I took that walk.

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I started with that first what if, and started thinking about what the effects would be. I opened up my mind’s eye and I could see things clicking together like the pieces of a puzzle. Actually it would be more accurate to call it a house of cards.

That was the day I realized just how much we depend on the energy we derive from fossil fuels.

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The first and most obvious thing that would happen is that within a week or two my cars would all become nothing but lawn ornaments, slowly rusting away as there would no longer be a way to get fuel for them. I would bet just about anything that within a week all remaining petroleum supplies would be federalized to keep the military and emergency services functioning as a more long term solution was found.

I suppose if I were driving a diesel I could try to use Bio-diesel, vegetable oils, or other alternative fuels, but likely those would be federalized pretty quickly as well to keep vital systems online.

Then I asked myself, what happens when the trucks and trains stop running?

What happens when no more supplies are reaching cities?

Thats where I think whatever bio-diesel we are able to produce would go. It would go to bringing food and other vital supplies to where it needed to be. There simply would not be enough left over for recreational use.

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As I continued with the world building for my tale I started thinking about what other ways the loss of oil would affect things. After all, I am a maintenance guy. I fix things both for a living and for fun.  Some people just see separate things, I see systems, interactions, everything is part of a puzzle, even you and I.

One of the primary things I do is look at interactions, cause and effect. I see the effects, and use that to tell me the cause. It’s what I have done my whole life, and I consider myself pretty damn good at it. 

This time I am looking at a cause and trying to predict the effects.

Let me tell you, it ain’t pretty.

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If the oil goes away what goes with it?

Gasoline.

Diesel fuel.

Natural gas.

Heating and lubricating oils.

Many plastics, and a lot of artificial rubber.

Add synthetic fibers like Nylon and Rayon into the mix.

Asphalt (though it won’t be needed near as much, since most cars will be obsolete)

It’s used in the pharmaceutical industry for some drugs, and in the crafting of damn near everything.

Whether it’s an actual part of the product or not, oil is used to make just about everything we touch. It’s so prevalent that attempting to live in such a way that you used none would be very difficult.

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Nearly impossible.

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What happens to the house of cards when someone comes along and pokes the base real hard with a big stick?

It all comes crashing down.

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Look at it from a local level, instead of globally. Focus on the small scale, you and your immediate family and friends.

How would you heat your house this winter?

Where would your food come from?

How would you get to work?

Would you even still have a job?

What would your community look like a year later? 

How about after five years?  

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The more I think about it the more I realise, 150 years ago the only oil we burned was to light lamps against the darkness. People survived, indeed they thrived, without oil.

People would go back to it, they would adapt and survive. As a race, we would go on.

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The world though, it would be a very very different place.

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What would you do if suddenly all the technology you use everyday without thinking about it suddenly just went away?

Yes, the world would be a different place. How would you fit into it?

Would you be able to adapt, or would you be one of the many that perished in the attempt?

Are you so addicted to technology that you would literally die of withdrawals if it you couldn’t get your fix?

Just something to think about.

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Happy Earth Day.

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Ok, let me start off by saying this is not a 30 minute meal.

30 minutes is the time you will actually spend in the kitchen, but if it’s already 5:30 and you need dinner on the table by 6 it ain’t happening with this recipe.

Also keep in mind, this recipe was designed with feeding a household of 6 in mind, possibly with guests and still have leftovers. I bring it to pot luck type things, and cook it for my Boy Scout troop when we are camping.

One batch is a lot of food, just so you have been warned.

On the plus side, it goes really well into freezer bags. Just thaw before reheating or it turns into glop.

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Alrighty, here’s what we are going to do.

First fire up your imaginations, because all the pics I took were on my phone when I plugged it into my computer to charge, wherein it promptly erased everything and put a new version of the iPhone software on in its place.

Don’t blame me, blame Apple.

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Anyhow, we are going to be doing several things at once here. I’ll divide it up into groups.

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Group one.

Grab yourself  3lbs of ground turkey that you already thawed out. I suppose you could use some other kind of meat, or possibly even a meat substitute. I honestly don’t know how it would come out though. Never tried it with anything but turkey.

Take the turkey and brown it with a bit of cooking spray, drain and put it in the big pot.

That was the easiest one, but the others are not much harder.

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Group two.

Take one medium white onion and dice it up as fine as you can. Then take one medium-sized jalapeno pepper seed it and dice it. (Rubber gloves are you friend for this step, especially if you wear contacts like me)

Put the onion and pepper in a skillet with a bit of oil and saute over medium heat until the onions begin to get translucent. I also shake on some garlic salt during this, probably about a half teaspoon or so, I never actually measured it. Also, I use olive oil when I cook. Your mileage may vary.

Once they are ready, toss them in the big pot as well.

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Group three.

Boil some water, once it’s rolling good add 2 cups of elbow noodles (measured dry of course). Cook for 7 minutes and then drain.

I’m pretty sure you can handle this part without detailed instructions.

Once drained, add to the big pot.

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Group four (also known as the big pot)

Take a good large pot, I use the same stock pot I boil whole ears of corn in, and set it on the counter.

Bust out your can opener and put  three 14-16 oz cans of chili beans, three 14.5 oz cans of peeled diced tomatoes, two cans of water (use the ones from the chili beans, you’ll rescue extra sauce as well) and one package of store-bought chili seasoning dust (I use McCormick medium heat, grab what you prefer) into the stock pot.

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Finally

Once all four groups are dumped into the pot, stir it all up, cover it up, and simmer over medium heat for at least 30 minutes, but all day works too.

Serve with buttered bread, crackers, and/or corn bread for an awesome meal that really sticks to your ribs.

Hope you like it.

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So, yesterday at like two in the afternoon I am going about my normal routine. Right about then it involved giving my daughter a ride to work. We run through the thunderstorm to get to my Cherokee, jump in and… squish.

Wait a minute, why does it feel like I just sat on a wet sponge?

Oh, thats just the seat.

Look at all the windows, nothing left down. That when the first of many drips bounced off my steering column and all over my lap.

Wonderful. My windshield seal looks to be leaking.

So I give my lovely wife a call and ask her to have folks to clear the driveway so I can pull into the garage. Then I stop at the store and grab some sealant, and head back to the house.

So much for my relaxing Sunday afternoon.

Once I get it home and get the trim pulled I get to cleaning. That when I get my brilliant idea.

You see, when I bought my Cherokee it already had a bit of rust on the roof, just back from the windshield. Nothing that looked too horrible mind you, just three or four patches the size of my palm that were rusted with no paint, and a couple even smaller ones where the paint had bubbled up.

In my infinate wisdom I decided that since I would already have the trim off, and already be cleaning up the area for putting down the sealer, I would go ahead and wire wheel the majority of the rust off, prime it, and paint it with some rustoleum, just to keep it from getting any worse ’till I could get time to sand it back off and do it right.

Really, it’s a good thing I did.

Remember those two bubbled up patches?

Well, there wasn’t a damn thing there but blistered paint and powdered rust. Two holes in my roof, each about the size of a quarter.

Just what everyone wants to see on a rainy Sunday afternoon right?

So, looking at the clock and knowing I had all of about 13 hours before I had to be driving it to work I kinda cheated.

I blasted everything clean with electronics cleaner, since it evaporates crazy fast. Then I filled the holes.

With Great Stuff.

Waited a while for that to dry, then cut it off flush with a knife.

Once that was done I hit it with a thin layer of bondo to seal in the great stuff, a couple coats of primer, and a couple coats of paint.

In the end it still needs work, but looks a damn sight better than the rust patches I set out to fix in the first place.

Not to mention, it won’t be raining inside the Jeep next time it’s raining outside.

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Everyone’s OK

This just in, winter can officially go &$@&$@ itself.

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Hiysa folks!

*blows dust off blog*

Some time ago I started this blog, mostly to track my adventures in weight loss.

Well, as you can probably tell, the adventure does not always go well.

I gave up.

I am starting over.

I will be posting again, at least once a week, with a new series I shall call the Wednesday Weigh-In.

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In other news, I wrote here over time about the loss of both of my dogs. One to complications from Diabetes and the other from Cancer, both in less than a year.

Soon, within the next few weeks, our family will be adopting a wonderful little puppy.

A gift to my family from the same family that gave us one of the others in years past.

I both dread it and look forward to it. We shall see how it goes.

In leiu of anything else today I will show you a puppy picture. The lighter tan one is coming to live with us, her sister in the same picture will be living with friends a few blocks away.

Hope you all had a great holiday season, and I look forward to spending more time here in the new year.

~Brad

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