Sunday, January 30, 2011

Two Candles

Amanda (8 mos pregnant) and Griffin
 celebrate his second birthday!

The desert of choice was brownies -- because
his birthday occurred a couple of days ago and he'd
already had cupcakes, rice crispy treats and other assorted
goodies at other parties already. So brownies were a change...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Yorkshire Pudding Legacy

My direct ancestors, the Lamberts, lived in Kirk Deighton,Yorkshire, England, before they immigrated to the United States. I don't think anyone reading this blog cares -- and that's neither here nor there except that is where I believe that I acquired my taste for Yorkshire Pudding. It must be a matter of genetics.

Not much happens in Kirk Deighton Parish with a population under 500. My ancestors swilled suds at the Bay Horse Pub in the 1800's and it's still there. By all accounts not much changed. One thing they do there is eat Yorkshire Pudding for Sunday dinner or whenever a meal is served that includes gravy. 

Some people eat their Yorkshire Pudding as a separate course prior to the main meat dish. While it is traditional, I prefer that the pudding be served with the meat. Then again I am an American - I'm often considered a heretic in matters of Yorkshire Pudding. Since the rich gravy from the roast meat drippings was used up with the first course (poured over the Yorkshire Pudding), the main meat and vegetable course was often served with a parsley or white sauce.

Traditionally, Yorkshire pudding is cooked in a large tin underneath a roasting joint of meat in order to catch the dripping fat and then cut appropriately. Yorkshire pudding may also be made in the same pan as the meat, after the meat has been cooked and moved to a serving platter, which also takes advantage of the meat fat that is left behind.

In recent years, it has become more popular to cook them in batches in bun tins (baked in muffin trays or baking tins), making individual mini puddings. I don't really care which method is used. The mini-Yorkshire puddings are crisper and I like that, but I never reject a completely traditional Yorkshire Pudding either.

Friday, January 28, 2011

For your Entertainment

How lucky do you feel?

"I know what you're thinking. "Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"

Your Friday night movie.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Griffin's Journey


My grandson, Griffin, turns two on this date. He's brought joy into my life and that of my whole family. Yes, he's incredibly smart and full of mischief - and there is some debate as to whether he'll excel in soccer, baseball, football or in all three. Time will tell.

He's coming to the house on Sunday for a party, to collect the loot due him and to run around and play. He also has a little brother arriving in under two months who will add to his responsibilities as being a big brother.

Happy Birthday, Griffin!


Landing on the moon (USA) and launching a satellite (USSR) did not define greatness in and of itself. In his recent state of the union address to the nation, the buffoon in the White House that the nation chose to lead it spouted platitudes that he clearly doesn't either believe or understand.

What made America 'exceptional' is the moral and political vision of its Founders, who clearly understood that a country established on the principles of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' was, not only an historical anomoly, but also represented the embodiment of the highest values to which mankind could aspire. 

What continues to make America exceptional is the extent to which we still live up to those same values bequeathed to us by a group of exceptional and extraordinary men. 

To the extent that we deviate from their vision, we become merely ordinary and mediocre at best; self-destructive and suicidal at worst; 'just one of many nations'and nothing special at all, in a world where, "On the one hand, all cultures are equally deserving of respect; on the other, Western culture is uniquely destructive and bad."

When Sputnik was in the news, we were in the middle of the Cold War with the Soviet Union; and their launch of a satellite into outer space reminded us in a number of ways that our very existence was at stake. The technological breakthroughs that followed were simply that: technological breakthroughs. And they were made possible because we firmly believed in our exceptionalism in those days; we did not need to be convinced that our way of life was superior to the Soviet communists--we knew in a fundamental way that our freedom was superior to their collectivism. If we had believed that we were nothing special; that the Soviet Union was just as good in every way and possibly even morally superior to us (as a very small minority did at the time) then we might have settled for the just "one of many" nations" talk back then and stood by while communism spread its poison around the globe.

But on a very visceral level, Americans knew better then. 

Today we are in self-destruct mode and must change the ways in which we've deviated from that clear and brilliant vision. We need to demolish the baggage heaped on the nation by 'progressives' because it's choking us.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

There are a lot of people who are angry that people who honorably served and retired according to the provisions of a contract are receiving benefits these days. The County of Orange (CA) has been diligently working to take bread out of the mouths of the retired to score points with the electorate. By the time that men and women reach the age of around 65 - in this job market - they become hard-core unemployable. Many law enforcement officers have health problems that were compounded by the work they did and cutting their pensions put them in a very rough place. It's not as if they can go out and find work, especially in Southern California where, according to CBS Sixty Minutes, unemployment combined with underemployment is at 22%.

The Second California District Court of Appeals (sitting in Los Angeles) unanimously affirmed in a 3 to 0 opinion today, to uphold an earlier judgment by the Los Angeles County Superior Court, to throw out the County of Orange’s lawsuit to overturn 3% at 50 pension benefits for Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (COUNTY OF ORANGE v. ASSOCIATION OF ORANGE COUNTY DEPUTY SHERIFFS et al., Case #B218660). After an extremely quick 7 days of deliberation, the court also awarded the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS) their costs for the appeal.

The decision marks the third time in 2 years the County of Orange has been rejected by the courts in their legal effort to overturn 3% at 50 pension benefits for Orange County Deputy Sheriffs. They were quickly tossed out of Los Angeles Superior Court last February 26 and again on May 22, before even being set for a formal hearing.

The County of Orange filed the controversial lawsuit in February 2008, despite having three different outside law firms they had hired for legal counsel, warn them they could not win such a case. As of July 31, 2010, they have spent almost $2.3 million on their legal costs.

“After three strikes, the County is out,” said Wayne Quint, President of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS). “We hope the Orange County Board of Supervisors now come to their senses and realize what we, and their attorneys, told them four years ago -- they are wrong on the facts and wrong on the law on this one. They can’t win. They have been told this by three different law firms and four judges in two different courts. If they don’t realize it at this point, they are in major denial. How much more apparent can it be that they have no legal argument?”

Based on past practice and the character of the Board of Supervisors, they'll appeal the decision of the District Court of Appeal to the California Supreme Court. If the California Supreme Court rejects the appeal, it will be appealed to the US Supreme Court - at likely double the cost to the taxpayers that they've already spent.

You can demonize the deputy sheriffs, you can demonize the courts, but once someone has a contract, and relies on the provisions of the contract, the law is on their side.

Monday, January 24, 2011


I finished BLOODY MEXICO: A Novel of Cartel Wars and so it's in clean-up mode before being sent to my editors who will clean it up further, catch what spell check didn't, and so forth.  I think it will meet the March deadline for going to press.

My deadline for THE BLACK SCORPIONS: A Novel of Outsourced War is July 2011 and I'm going to complete that - it's almost done - next.

But what's coming after that? Will I toss my keyboard and imagination and turn my attention to something that makes real money? 


The next story, which will be titled, MISCHIEF, is in the works. 

With MISCHIEF I take a whole new direction and leave the world of the nearly real for that of science fiction. I've never attempted SciFi before, but, it's a challenge that I've given myself. I started on MISCHIEF last night.

And the proof of the writing is in the reading, isn't it?

Look for MISCHIEF in 2012 -- provided I don't end up in the "special room" for writing SciFi...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Family Do'ins

Griffin (above), age 2, is destined for great things - 
*Playing Baseball at the US Naval Academy 
(the process begins above)

Griffin's mother (my daughter) almost NEVER allows him to eat sugar, but in a rare moment, captured above, he feasts on a doughnut.

Cannon, waits in the hanger -- soon to hit the runway. Then Griffin will have a baby brother.  

3-D photos of babies in-the-womb are cool and make me wonder how anyone could assert that these children are not alive and therefore could be aborted/murdered without a second passing thought.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

American Food

What can be more American than the hot dog?

But how do we define the very best sausage in a bun? I think that the only thing we can agree on is that it must be HOT. Though a cold frank can be consumed, it just doesn't qualify as a hot dog.

There are different grades of hot dogs on the market. Some boast their contents (all beef, all turkey, etc.) and others advertise length, girth or that they plump up when you cook them. Some even have cheese embedded inside and it goos out when they get warm. I think that he cheese stuffed inside is taking a good thing to an extreme.

Hebrew National hot dogs claim to come from a "higher source" and offer a kosher twist on the national favorite. Ballpark Franks assert that their brand is the one sold at baseball games nationwide - a suspicious claim at best. Hoffy boasts that their hot dogs are the very best. Pink's claims a hot dog legacy to 1939. I've had a Pink's dog and it tastes like any other hot dog. Since I had to stand in a line next to rush hour traffic at Melrose and La Brea (in Los Angeles) for the privilege of buying one, the gasoline fumes may have tainted the experience.

There is something wrong about waiting in line for a hot dog on a bun.

I personally think that the best hot dogs come from Chicago. I've eaten them in ball parks, on dirty Los Angeles street corners, and from street carts in New York City. None of them taste as good as the hot links you buy in Chicago.

The Chicago dog comes smeared with yellow mustard, chopped onions, tomatoes and a pickle spear loaded onto a fresh, hot, squishy bun topped with poppy seeds. What's not to love about that? Ok, the meat is a little more difficult to taste with all that on the dog, but who cares?

The closest I've come to a genuine Chicago hot dog in Southern California is Portillos (Buena Park and Moreno Valley). Dick Portillo started a small hot dog stand in Chicago and it went viral - for a reason.

One of my favorite places to eat a hot dog is when I'm camping. There is something very special (though nowhere near sacred) about charring a Hebrew National hot dog over a mesquite fire, dropping it into a bun, running a line of mustard along the top and taking a big bite.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Party On!

There are some timid souls who fear to roll down the highway on New Year's Eve because of the drunks and party crazed. Now EVERY evening can be New Year's Eve with the introduction of scotch whiskey in a can.

Is there any better sound than that of the crack of a beer can being opened after a long day of work? What if that can was full of something a little stronger than beer, say, whisky? 

Despite having Scottish in the name, the spirits company is based in Panama. But that still doesn't excuse what they have gone and done. They've put twelve ounces of whisky (I am spelling it thusly because that's how the Scots spell it) in an aluminum can and last week they released it on the public. It comes in both the company's signature whisky and a blended variety called Sir Edwin's. "It's lightweight and portable and entirely recyclable," chief executive Manish Panshal told The Daily Mail. "It will be one of the hot picks for any outdoor activities...But you probably wouldn't want it in aluminium [sic] cans for too long, because it would affect the taste." A fine, [mellow?]  whiskey, aged thirty days in the can is bound to find acceptance in every ghetto neighborhood in North America (including Canada...because we know Canadians are no more discerning than Americans).

I don't know how this will impact drinking and driving but twelve ounces of scotch will have a more profound impact on the body than a brewski. So when the drunk pulls over and says, "I only had one ocifer," the policeman might even be able to believe them.

The company is testing its product in South America and Caribbean markets right now. It is not available in the US & Canada (yet) so don't go sprinting out to your local liquor store for supplies for your next picnic.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Greasy Spoons

Space Aliens Grill - serving ribs. The question that immediately leaps to mind is, "whose ribs"? Are they obtained by means of abduction. I don't have an answer. This roadside greasy spoon is located in North Dakota, reputedly a prime location for cow tipping and crop circles.

Located in Arizona, on historic Route 66, in the city city of Seligman, the Roadkill has been serving up ...meat... for years. One would think you could scrape what you found on the road and bring it in to be charred. I really don't know if they'll cook it for you or if you have to eat what they find. NO JOKE: The menu says, "You kill it, we grill it." It features deer delectables, fender tenders, swirl of squirrel and a splatter platter.

At My Dung restaurant, you don't have to excuse yourself from the table in order to do the necessary. Urgency is no problem and you never have to wait in line.

For that busy diner who doesn't have the chance to stop at your local choke and puke roadside greasy spoon, there is always the canned cheeseburger, suitable for consumption anywhere, at any time. The shelf life of the burger is 99 years, so there isn't any rush to finish.

Who wouldn't be drawn in by the name alone? So what if the food tastes like an unhealthy blend of "sweat and sour curried carp"?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ready - Fire - Aim

Ok, I can't get the graphic to "fire" for me. Click on the .gif to watch it work.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Do you ever look at a business name and try to figure out what 
they had on their minds when they came up with it? 

When Asians come to the US (or when they open up businesses in Asia that cater to Americans, they try to bring a bit of home with them and the results are unfortunately predictable.

Are they teasing or will they feed me 'my dung'?

Big talk -- but they say they'll deliver.

Those boastful Vietnamese.

A lot of American servicemen in Thailand 
went here and wished that they hadn't...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tipping Point

This comes to us from my friends, the captain and crew of the Barco Sin Vela II. I think of it as more of a metaphor, but it's a real boat.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Work with me Emilie

Emilie wanted me to do a mini photo shoot before she went out to dinner with her boyfriend tonight. Here are a couple of the snapshots:

Canon EOS Rebel T2i - Portrait mode in ambient light

Canon EOS Rebel T2i - Portrait mode with very gentle flash

Tres Cool

Who doesn't like gadgets?

Most guys (and that would include me) find these sorts of little gizmos interesting - and some rise to the enviable point of being "cool".

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Guide for the Misinformed

A lone gunman went berzerk in a grocery store in Tuscon, Arizona, killing six people including a judge and seriously injuring a US Congresswoman. The media is making more of it than it is. While a tragedy, he's not the first nut to fall from the tree nor will he be the last. This guide helps put it all together.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Prince of Fools

Billboard in Texas

"The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president."

I don't know who to attribute this quote to, but it strikes the nail squarely.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Walking in Winter

I spent the day in Pasadena and took a few photos. These posted are of my daughter Emilie, dressed for SoCal winter. Note the boots (suitable for snow drifts), the leggings and the coat to protect her from the cutting, bitter weather.

Emilie likes lunch at Green Street and  I have to agree that it's my very favorite place for lunch in Pasadena. She had a Diane Salad and a Monte Cristo sandwich. I made due with a Shrimp Taco Salad.

There aren't may pay telephone booths in Southern California - but they keep these for atmosphere because they originally came from England.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cowboy - failed

When I was a kid, I attended a rural high school where the big courses were sponsored by the "Future Farmers of America" and 4H. Yes, of course, I had a horse and rode well, but I never caught the vision of being a farmer or a cowboy (ranch hand).

Perhaps it was fate that drew me in another direction?  Or maybe it was seeing the amount of back-busting work 24/7/365 that farmers did to only scratch a living?  Cowboys had it worse. I've never seen an older cowboy who didn't walk crooked because of arthritis from busted bones that never knit quite right and had a wicked thirst for rotgut whiskey that led him to ruin. 

I don't know if there are really any cowboys left? The stereotype didn't square with the reality of Hollywood and Country Western Songs.

Bucket List - The Simpson Desert

Australia's Outback is some of the most challenging 4x4 expedition driving on this, the Third Rock from the Sun. Though there is no real last great frontier on top of the Oceans, this comes close. (LINK) I've talked about it with friends -- I've been born 150 years too early or 150 years too late. The Bucket List is a good place to compensate to the extent that it's possible, and Australia's Northern Territory is on the list.

I've beaten my way across the Desert Southwest in the US and through the Rocky Mountains and it's time to up the bet.

Colorado - last summer
Continental Divide - last summer

Why not the gnarliest spot in Australia - the great down-under!

I've discussed the expedition with buddies and thought about shipping my Toyota FJ - but I'm more likely to rent a Toyota Prado (expedition equipped) in Australia for the trip if and when I can make it before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

The Road Less Traveled...beckons.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hands of Time

December is one of my least favorite months. My brother died in a traffic accident in December just before Christmas. My father and step-mother died in a traffic accident eleven years later immediately after Christmas. I know that it's not sensible that I mourn them at this time of year because it happened a long time ago. However, in my heart and soul, I feel as if it was yesterday. Time can be a tricky creature. Sometimes it moves quickly and other days and nights drag as if they won't ever end.

I had a birthday at the end of December and I don't particularly like those either.

I've been working hard on my upcoming novel, Bloody Mexico: A Novel of Cartel Wars and thought about this song in conjunction with one of the characters in the story. Many of us have a fear of being thrust into one of those warehouses where they discard the elderly. As McCartney asks, "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?" 

I had a friend and an editor who encouraged my writing who died this past year in one of those places. Though I visited her, it took a certain kind of courage to do it because when you enter that sort of institution, you look through a distorted mirror at your own future. It's far easier facing an armed and menacing enemy. Though you may argue the point, there is a type of masculine honor dying, guns blazing, taking a few of the bastards with you. There is no honor dying while you crap yourself to death in one of those warehouses for the old. Landmarks once certain, aren't anymore. Faces known and loved fade into confusion. You smile at death and death smiles right back at you.

However, December is finally behind me for another 11 months.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Born to Ride

Griffin is on the road now.

While shopping for Christmas presents I stumbled on this Buzz Lightyear ATV
 And the rest is history...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bucket List - Snowboarding

When I told members of my family that I planned to try snowboarding (which means - to take a couple snowboarding lessons on the bunny slope), they suggested that perhaps I had finally flipped.  However it is on the bucket list. I have no idea how good I will get - or if I'll be intoxicated by the experienced -- or bruised. However the idea of a bucket list is to do things you wanted to do before you kick the bucket, or before you're too old to do them.
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