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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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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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Well, I stole the general Idea anyhow. Originally Pikestaff started doing this and it was dedicated to games. Video games in particular.For my purposes though I am changin it up.

You see, I only recently got into video games. For the most part I never really did.

Yes I had an Atari 2600 back when they were $200 new.

Yes I had a Commodore 64 and played around with the old Apple 2.

I did those things, but they were never really a focus. Now, as I am slowly losing interest in the only game to ever keep it for any real length of time. Writing about it for 30 day simply is not appealing to me.

On the other hand, I kinda fell off the writing wagon there for a while since I closed my Warcraft blog down.

In an effort to get back on track with putting words to page regularly I am going to attempt my own version of Pike’s 30 day post series. Mine however will revolve around books.

My plan for the month of April ended up looking like this.

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Day 1 – Very first book.
Day 2 – Your favorite character.
Day 3 – A book that is underrated.
Day 4 – Your guilty pleasure book.
Day 5 – The character you feel you are most like (or wish you were).
Day 6 – Most annoying character.
Day 7 – Favorite couple (romantically linked or otherwise).
Day 8 – Best foreshadowing.
Day 9 – Saddest scene.
Day 10 – Best overall plot.
Day 11 – Best multi book series.
Day 12 – A book everyone should read.
Day 13 – A book you have read more than five times.
Day 14 – Favorite book that left you wanting a sequel (that was never written).
Day 15 – Most interesting sidekick.
Day 16 – Most intricately woven plot.
Day 17 – Favorite antagonist.
Day 18 – Favorite protagonist.
Day 19 – A world or setting you wish you lived in.
Day 20 – Favorite genre.
Day 21 – Overall best story.
Day 22 – A sequel which disappointed you.
Day 23 – Book or graphic novel with the best graphics or art style.
Day 24 – Favorite classical story.
Day 25 – A story you plan on reading.
Day 26 – A story you plan to avoid reading.
Day 27 – Most epic scene ever.
Day 28 – A book you thought you would love, but ended up hating.
Day 29 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like, but ended up loving.
Day 30 – Your favorite story of all time. 

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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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For those of you who don’t already know this, I am a huge fan of The Wheel of Time series by the late Robert Jordan. It is nearing completion now, as Brandon Sanderson has stepped up to finishe the series. (He also co-hosts a writers podcast called Writing Excuses, take a listen if you have some time.)

If you havn’t read the series this post will mean very little to you, so go read up and come back when you are done… likely about six months from now.

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Once upon a time, before I began my own journey as a writer, I picked up the first book in the series. I have always loved fantasy stories, and needed a good hefty book to get me through a trip I was about to take. A friend at work reccomended the series, so I picked up the first book.

It was amazing.

As I worked my way through the series one of my best friends did as well, generally staying at about the same point as myself. We spent many hours discussing what had come before in the tale, and where we saw it going. In fact, we likely spent more time on theory-crafting what might come to pass than we did on actually reading the books.

We caught a lot of the little things, nuances, forshadowed events. Like the players of another wheel, the Wheel of Fortune, we were good at solving puzzles with only half the pieces.

In fact, if the two of us get together and watch any type of mystery on television our wives would leave the room, because we tended to spoil things for them by figuring out who did it before the heroes did.

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Years later, and many re-reads later I now see the story differently.

It’s still epicly awesome, at a level I don’t even aspire to in my own writing. The difference is that now I see more than just the story itself, I see the craftsmanship that went into it. I can see underneath the surface to the framework that it was built on.

All my plotlines are but houses of cards by comparison.

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Alrighty then enough mooning over the story.

Im not here for that, I’m here to make some predictions about how the story will unfold.

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You see, I started a complete reread of the series today, and I saw something that simply clicked.

I know now that the good guys will win.

What make me so certain you ask?

Simple. There is a passage in the prelude to the first book that tells you.

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And it came to pass in those days, as it had come before and would come again, that the Dark lay heavy on the land and weighed down the hearts of men, and the green things failed, and hope died. And men cried out to the Creator, saying, O Light of the Heavens, Light of the World, let the promised one be born of the mountain, according to the prophecies, as he was in ages past and will be in ages to come. Let the prince of the morning sing to the land that green things will grow and valleys give forth lambs. Let the arm of the Lord of the Dawn shelter us from the Dark, and the great sword of justice defend us. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time. 

(from Charal Drinnan te Calamon, the Cycle of the Dragon, author unknown, the Fourth Age.”

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Thats part of the prolog, before the maps and such, in the beginnig of the first book in the series. This next bit is literally the next paragraph of text, though it is several pages of artwork later.

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“The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, and Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning, there are neither Beginnings nor endings to the turning of The Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.”

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Those two paragraphs speak volumes once you have read the tale. We learn a lot as we go.

We know that one of the main characters of our tale is the Dragon Reborn. We become familliar with the prophecies that ere mentioned in the first paragraph. We see many of those events unfold. Actually I believe we have seen everything other than the Prince of the Morning singing to the land, though he is closely intertwined with it, even to the point of having a bubble of good weather and bountiful crops follow where he goes.

The most telling part of the passage is this. It was written in the Fourth Age.

It history, already happened, perhaps on it’s way to fading into legend by the time of the quote.

The Dragon Reborn, the Lord of the Morning, is referred to as the hero in that little snippet.

The winners write the history books.

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I could get a lot more into it, and likely will as my re-read continues, but for now I can read through knowing that the good guys will come out on top in the end.

So who wants to re-read with me?

Come on, its an excellent series, and the last book should be out later this year.

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Everyone’s OK

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

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