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Monday, June 30, 2008

Don't Answer that Call!

More and more states are telling their populous that they are too ignorant to make their own decisions. State Legislators are rapidly climbing on the band wagon for abolishing the use of cell phones, and other electronic devices, while driving. Come on people, I know we are not really that dumb are we? Do we need to have people tell us that we can do something distracting while we are busy navigating traffic with our urban assault vehicle? How much longer will it be before the government decides to choreograph our entire life?

Negative reenforcement is how our society operates and functions; how much can we get away with before the 'Man' says, "Stop It!" Most of the new laws going on the books are really just common sense, do we really need a law that says we can't drive, talk on the phone, apply facial appeasing spackle, organize strands of hair and eat our breakfast? I am pretty sure our Mothers have raised us much better than that.

Make your Momma Proud Don't Drive while being Stupid!

Friday, June 27, 2008


Some of you have requested that I share my secrets for pulled pork and pulled beef, so here goes; and even more of you have never savored my pulled pork so you can't even begin to guess what all you have been missing!
First of all, the first very important step is to get the right cut of meat. Yes, I know some of you will argue with me until you are blue in the face, but you ASKED for MY SECRETS! *WINK* The first secret is communication! Chances are you won't find what you are looking for at the super store in the meat display case so you will need to talk to the individual in the white (well probably mostly white with some bits of red on the front) apron. I know some of us can be slightly uncomfortable talking to someone holding sharp knives and covered in blood, but all the ones I have talked to have been quite nice. For pork I prefer a bone in pork shoulder and for beef I prefer beef brisket(Fresh not corned), now when talking to the butcher mention that you are planning on smoking the meat for pulled meat sandwhiches. This should light up their eyes and they might start asking questions like, "Do you make yours Carolina style?" "What is your favorite Texas style recipe?"; that is when you know you are talking to a true Butcher who knows exactly what you are looking for, well at least for a cut of meat. Typically they will hand you a shrink wrapped cut of meat that will have a USDA inspection decal, as these cuts of meats come from the slaughter house and do not require the Butcher to do anything other than price the cut.

Now we have made the first leap, talking to the Butcher and getting the right cut of meat. What is that you say? Of course the meat will have fat on it, that is what we want for our process; you will have to toss all those tips 'Your Mamma' taught you about picking out quality cuts of meat. Now comes the preparation of the meat, some people like the meat to warm to room temperature, but in consideration of the bacteria's feelings I tend to keep mine refrigerate right up until I plop it in the smoker. Now for the Never EVER, EVER NEVERS! DO NOT MARINATE THE MEAT, DO NOT INJECT THE MEAT and MOST CERTAINLY DO NOT TRIM OFF THE FAT!!! Sorry for yelling, but like I said, "You asked for my secrets!" I am going to assume that most everyone knows how to run their smoker, so I won't get right down to the fine details of smoking. We will start by cutting the beef brisket into sizable chunks that will fit on the smoker racks, remember bigger is better! The pork shoulder won't need to have any carving done, so it will be ready to go right out of the package. Once you have the beef cut into thirds, we will use a dry rub to season the beef. I have my own secret dry rub recipe, but one can find a recipe for a pepper based dry rub in Joy of Cooking. Some like to slather the cut of meat in oil before rubbing, but I have found that applying the dry rub and than spraying a light coat of Olive oil cooking spray works just as well.

Now we will load the smoker, I tend to cook one type of meat at time, but that is not a requirement. Always load the meat onto the smoker racks fat side up, we want all the fatty juices to drain through the meat. I like to place my remote thermometer probe in the piece of meat that is located on the center rack of the smoker. Selecting wood chips for smoking can be a daunting task with the variety that is available. I prefer to use mostly hickory chips with a side of fruit wood. For pork, Half hickory half apple works pretty well; for beef mostly (85-90%) hickory with some apple. Of course, here is where we all can develop our secrets; sometimes I use cherry when no one is looking. NEVER use mesquite if you are planning on slow cooking, as the flavor is too strong and bitter for extended duration smoking. It should take about 6-8 hours to slow smoke these meats, so be prepared to babysit the smoker. We are looking for an internal meat temperature of (180°F Pork, 170°F Beef), which will not only smoke the meat but cook it as well. For the first couple of hours I like to keep the smoker temperature around 120°F and than steadily increase it to 250°F for finishing; all the while increasing the smoke concentration in the smoker.

The remote thermometer is beeping like crazy which would mean the target temperature has been reached. Place the cuts of meat into a large pan and allow to cool. I like to vacuum seal and freeze the meat at this stage of the process for later cooking, but that is not necessary if you are going to slow cook the meat the next day. I find that it is easier to smoke extra meat and vacuum seal and freeze the smoked meat for later use than it is to just smoke a single cut of meat, same amount of work to have the smoker half full versus full; and it works well to freeze the meat between the cooking steps.

Now for the final cooking stage of the process, this is typically done the day of enjoyment. While the meat was completely cooked during the smoking process, the cut is not tender enough to pull. This slow cooking process can be done in a roaster pan in the oven or in a slow cooker. Word of caution, using a slow cooker is not my preffered method since it takes a long time to heat the large cuts of meat. I find that it takes at least three-four hours (Longer for large cuts) of slow cooking, during which the smoked meat will be cooked with a collection of spices. Carolina style is typically a vinegar base, which helps to flavor and tenderize the meat. A tomato based sauce can also be used and is sometimes substituted with commercially available BBQ sauce. I lean towards Carolina style for pork and have my own concoction for beef. After about three hours of slow cooking, the meat should start to become tender enough to pull apart with forks, which I like to do as early as possible during this process to help the flavors intermix and mellow for a nice consistent flavor. A big concern during this slow cooking process is to make sure the meat is not dried out, add water as necessary but we don't want it to be really wet either. I like to give everyone an option on their flavor of BBQ Sauce so I don't mix the pulled meat with a BBQ sauce, but one can always use their favorite sauce during the slow cook process.
And that would be some of my secrets...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

End of Changes!

Slothful Ned is suffering tremendously since his messy divorce and loss of his job, but still manages to consume twice the caloric intake arbitrarily set by the AAROP (Not to be confused with AARP or any other legitimate organization). Slothful Ned is rapidly approaching the life of a granite statue and has reached a body mass that rivals a compact car. Ned's health is in shambles and even the daily chores are a strenuous workout for him. Unfortunately Ned's constant eating is killing him, but the only place he finds comfort is in another plate of food. While he consumes enough nutrition to feed an average family, he is unable to burn the recommended calories of one person. Without severe medical intervention Ned will soon be suffocated by his own body weight.

Healthy Hank barely consumes a third of the calories, has a very active lifestyle but NEVER sets foot in the gym. One could say, " I am so jealous of Hank, he never seems to gain any weight!" You know the type, always seem so fit and trim but you never see them sweating it out on exercise equipment. Healthy Hank has a very carefully planned food intake to maintain everything in moderation and correct proportions, and only eats the amount of calories that his body requires for his activity levels. One might even go as far as to say, that Hank is very globally responsible in his lifestyle.

I know this was a bit long winded, but hopefully you stuck with me on this one; and for those who got lost here is a quick recap. We can NOT look at one aspect of our life and claim to be living globally responsible. We could ride a bike for our daily commutes and drive a fuel efficient vehicle for the long trips, but still live a lifestyle that is wasteful of energy. No amount of legislation will change our behavior because there are groups of people who will fight lifestyle changing laws as unconstitutional. WE, the American People, ARE responsible for our future generations. WE can bring about positive climate change, We can reduce our dependence on non-renewable fuel sources, We can live a life that doesn't waste resources and all it takes is a critical eye on our daily activities. I know I am not perfect and do not always use resources available to me with the greatest benefit, so I have room for change in my life as well.

I challenge my readers to look out how they live and to find places of resource waste and take measures to correct this waste. Dripping faucets, running water down the drain to obtain the correct temperature, excessive driving, using urban assault vehicles as the daily commuter, wasting of food, I could go on and on but I am sure you have gotten the point by now.

I am a huge critic of 'Global Warming' but that doesn't mean I am blind to the wasting of resources and how that impacts the Global Climate. We need to hold ourselves responsible to a higher standard than has been set by our government and tackle this problem individually so that we might appreciate the changes collectively. Our children and grandchildren deserve our best efforts in leaving them a place that is habitable.

Now for the flip side, maybe this 'Global Climate Change' is God's way of thinning out the population. Could it be that our own human nature and it's tendency for self indulgence is not only going to destroy the rock we live on, but in fact bring about the end of our civilization? Is this all part of God's great plan for the rapture? Is our lack of husbandry to our planet going to be the downfall of man kind? Is this all part of His Great Plan?

Author's Note:
There is no mention of the female race in this trilogy, not because I think the female race is not wasteful, but because I did not want the reader to get hung up on the gender issues. All the characters could be changed to female without changing the big picture. So before y'all go bashing me about gender roles, women's liberation and all those issues; remember that I hold women responsible for men's actions. ;-)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Best Job in the WORLD!!!

What a week, sorry for not getting the rant out on Wednesday; while the rant was posted I didn't get it scheduled correctly to auto post. Oops!

This weekend was absolutely nice warm weather, weather that makes me really wish I was out enjoying the open road. Unfortunately, the motorcycle is still not completely ready to go since I still have a box of parts in the living room that need to be installed before it will be ready to run. Spent the weekend watching firefighters do their thing and offering a little of my energy as well.
The rest of the family was off at convention, so I haven't been able to spoil the nephew much lately. I think my dog is missing Savannah since he has trained her quite well at tossing the tennis ball for him. But this is what it looks like when I am babysitting, most of the time. I think my sister's have pictures of me nappin' will all the nephews and nieces; but like my shirt says, "I CAN sleep for days!"
Sorry, no posts of delicious looking food from this weekend. I know some of your are just absolutely deflated and crushed that I didn't have something to make your mouth water.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More changes...

Now where was I, oh yeah; I was standing on the soup box and getting all long winded on my readers...Quick recap for those who didn't catch last week. Average Joe eats a lot of food, works out a lot and is generally an energy and resource hog. I think that about covers it, but those that are still lost go here.

The next character in the month long ti raid is Slim Jim. Slim Jim has a little eating disorder that keeps him from extracting nutritional value of his food intake. Jim eats a mere 4,500 calories a day, more than enough to feed a small family of three. Jim is still able to maintain a stick like figure, but not because he has an active lifestyle or works out a lot. After surviving a bout with the stomach flu, Jim learned that by constant purging of his stomach he was able to eat anything he desired but never had to worry about his weight. His lack of nutrient uptake results in severe health conditions without excess bulk on his bones. Not only does he waste nutrients and food, the acidic regurgitation wreaks havoc on the sewage disposal system.

Skinny Sal has survived morbid obesity through the advancements in the medical profession and takes daily dietary supplements that will eventually kill his heart, kidneys and liver. At some point in his life he will put an increased strain on the community by needing constant medical supervisor and multiple organ transplants. But for now, he eats what ever he desires and how ever much he wants, since the medical mutants have enabled him to consume calories while he body either doesn't uptake them or burns them off in excess do to thermo-genetics.

And next week I will wrap it all up, thanks for checking back...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Father's Day

What a weekend! I had hoped to get this all blogged on the weekend but it is rapidly approaching mid-week, so here is a quick post on my lunch hour.

My sister and two of her kids are here from the east and it has been great to visit with them and see how much the kids have grown. I am definitely a proud Uncle of a couple of stinkers! Can't imagine what characters and pills my own offspring would be. I am not a big people picture taker so not very many pictures of everyone, but there are a few in the slide show. On Father's day I smoked ribs and roasted corn on the cob for the family, and I must say "I am a good cook!" Dessert was an early birthday cake for Mom, since she will be at convention on the real day. I didn't do so well on the cake as I did on the ribs, but I can say I have baked better so maybe it was just a fluke!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Food Scare!

Makes me wonder how much Salsa was made with the recalled tomatoes! Just a little Monday morning Skepticism for y'all...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A call for change

Almost as good as my global warming argument, except in the complete opposite direction. I wonder if they could toss in some diet pills into the mix for a little extra money as well as making all our meals a large smoothie.

Revisiting a post from a few weeks back where global warming was blamed on the obese, I think we can blame global warming on anyone who eats food. I know we all can agree that it takes considerable resources to produce, process, distribute, prepare/cook and dispose of the waste from food products. A couple of weeks ago I sat down with my Uncle and we discussed this exact topic and this is when we determined eating is causing global climate change. (Author Note: In order to keep this from becoming a huge post this will be a multi-week rant installment)

The American Association of Restaurant Owners and Proprietors have gotten together and arbitrarily decided that the Average American needs to have about 4,000+ calories a day to survive. Which of course they have found a meriade of ways to provide these calories to us; smoothies, milkshakes, super-sized deep fried potatoes, carnivorous pizzas, etc. Average Joe just goes along with this diet that was established by the Capitalistic Food Entrepreneur and because the average Joe is a complete washout-pushover he also works out at the local gym. Slim Jim goes along with the same diet, but he has an eating disorder that prohibits him from keeping his food down. Skinny Sal has bounced back from his morbidly obese days by losing 80% of his body weight thanks to medical advancements in bariatric surgery and drug therapy, after being a victim of this food regime. Slothful Ned is suffering tremendously since his messy divorce and loss of his job, but still manages to consume twice the caloric intake arbitrarily set by the AAROP (Not to be confused with AARP or any other legitimate organization). Healthy Hank barely consumes a third of the calories, has a very active lifestyle but NEVER sets foot in the gym.

Starting with average Joe, we will now look at the daily routines. Joe gets up early, stops by his local healthy watering hole and gets his day started with a tropical soy smoothie and latte. By the time Joe arrives at the gym he has consumed 24 oz of soy latte, 20 oz of Tropical smoothie and popped a handful of vitamins and supplements. After Joe bangs out a nice workout at boot camp, off he heads to his desk jockey job; a snack at ten, enormous man-salad at lunchtime, more coffee and a lot of elbow grease spent sliding his mouse around the desk. On his way home another stop at the gym for either a strength conditioning or aerobic workout. Joe tops his day off with a nice grilled salmon meal, with rice and seasonal vegetable and a bowl of 'lite' ice cream before bed. Total intake 4200, total burn at work 1100, total burn at the gym 3100...Perfect, right? Everything balances, calories in equals calories burned, no weight gain, right? How globally responsible was Joe?

The 3100 calories that Joe burned at the gym used electrical energy to run the gym equipment and to provide the nice comfortable workout environment. The double dip into the gym resulted in two showers which not only wasted energy in heating the water, but was not very conservative on his water consumption (Joe likes long hot showers). Not to mention how much extra waste that Joe created because of his large food intake, which in turns ALSO takes energy to process and results in the infamous 'green house gas' emissions. Joe has been completely wish-washed by 'The Man' into believe he is living a healthy responsible life while all the time he is using way more resources and energy that was absolutely necessary. So even if Joe drove a fuel efficient car, maintained his weight and lived a healthy lifestyle he is not respectful of his neighbor's caloric, electric or hydrating needs. Joe is in fact a complete self centered energy waster wearing the deceptive green cloak.

To be continued next week. On urging of legal counsel, all persons in this rant are fictional characters that while they might resemble actual people are in no way shape or form actual individuals. If you feel like I have singled you out, than good I want to make you think. The only way for global reform is by changing the habits of each and everyone of us. WE can stand together and incite change, by providing constant pressure on the governing powers; fight back, take a stand, be globally responsible!

THINK Globally, Buy Locally, Act Individually!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Taking Chances

Think about the biggest chance you have ever taken in life? What was it that gave you the courage, the confidence, the comfort or even the ability to take that chance? Of course I don't expect people to disclose this information.

Some people consider the big chances they have taken are the ones where they have ventured down pathways that have completely changed their personal lives. Others would consider their big chance as a huge career decisions. Some might even consider their chance to be one taken on Vegas odds. The stakes and the outcomes are different for every one of us, but they all have the same basic building blocks; the only difference is whether or not we take those chances.

There are so many things in life that have some level of chance to them; one might even go as far as to say that everything has a little bit of chance. The best part about chance, there is no amount of statistical analysis that can accurately determine the outcome. Merely taking the chance is a victory in itself; one can contemplate, cogitate, ponder, scheme, plan and even dream big, but nothing gets accomplished without some effort being made to change the outcome.

I like to hedge my bets and take the chances that I know are low risk, well maybe when it comes down to my personal life that is my risk management approach. Taking chances on investments doesn't seem to bother me that much, or even running into burning buildings, but going out on a limb for changes in my personal life is almost completely foreign to me. Maybe it is just my gianormous fear of failure combined with all my past experience that comprise my kryptonite.

Well, that is probably way more sliver of me than you all wanted to know...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Stupid People

Ohio City OKs Jail Time for Failing to Mow Lawn

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

CANTON, Ohio — Homeowners who don't mow their grass in this northeast Ohio city now face stiffer penalties — including possible jail time.

The city council unanimously passed a law Monday that makes a second high-grass violation a fourth-degree misdemeanor carrying a fine of up to $250 and as many as 30 days in jail.

The previous law only made the first violation a minor misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $150 but no jail time. The new law is to take effect in 30 days.

"This is the type of action we need to take in order to clean up our neighborhoods and our city," Mayor William J. Healy II said.

The laws are an effort to reduce the roughly $250,000 the city spends to cut about 2,000 private lots each year and to address public complaints, Councilman Greg Hawk has said.

You have got to be kidding me! Can it really be so? What is the going rate of housing an inmate? Some how I don't think spending $3,000 on a jail stay will be a cost savings over just moving the lazy no gooder's lawn. Someone needs to rip the page out of the Great Falls playbook and send it over so they can see how to BILL the property owner at an outrageous amount for mowing the lawn, something like $500 not sure what the going rate is for the services of the weed enforcement Gestapo. Not to mention who is going to be mowing the lawn when the property owner is enjoying their vacation in the concrete resort?

I have to wonder where this politicians get their half-baked ideas on ways to save money. I could save money by not paying my car insurance, but you don't see me out courting the legal system and lining my pockets with cash that would eventually lead me into legal proceedings. There are so many ways to trim pork from budgets, but shifting the money to another department and calling it a cost savings is absolutely political road apples. We wonder why the economy is in shambles, could it possibly be because of improper use of tax dollars and ever increasing taxation? We should institute a policy that cuts politicians salaries every time they vote for 'cost saving' legislation that actually results in an increase in spending, maybe then would we see some accountability for their hair brained ideas.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Delusional World..

Have you ever wondered what world someone lived in? What it would be like to be a fly on the wall in their world? Wondering if there was any information that could be gleaned that would explain their actions or reasonings behind their behavior? Well, let me give you a glimpse of my delusional world.

Where I live there are priorities and to some they make no sense at all, why would a plastic box that is 3/4" thick by 2" wide by 3 1/2" tall be top priority? A concept that most people should be able to understand in today's society of electronic leashes. I remember my first electronic leash, it weighed about eight pounds and was the size of a watermelon. Boy was it great to be able to make phone calls when traveling, now it is completely out of control. Phone smaller than wallets, blue tooth headsets so people appear to be talking to themselves, ability to communicate with txt messaging and all the other features that are available. Those little devices that bring people closer, where it is far easier to communicate by a text message than it is to sit down and talk over a cup of coffee. Sigh! We all jump to the little beeping and random noises that come from our pockets.

Not only are their strange priorities in my world, there are also strange rituals. The most interesting ritual involves the sudden grabbing of the electronic leash, the quick look at the backup EL, the strange facial expressions that are made when starring at the screen or maybe even the sudden dropping of the clutch when stopped at a stop sign when the ticklish rumble in your pocket startles you. All these rituals make sense to those who are members of the electronic leash society, but other people do not understand ANY of these sudden movements. To this day I still remember the first time Mom called when I was out riding the motorcycle, almost a very bad ending for me.

My delusional world a nice balance of work and play, with very few of those stressful days. Those days that leave one feeling completely drained and wanting nothing more than to make it all go away. The days being more like an ice cream sundae, complex but more than just ice cream. Days filled with some work but topped with relaxation. A world with more whipped cream and sprinkles and a lot less vanilla ice cream.

Even the best delusional world has a bad day, it would be great if the world's where so delusional that there was no such thing as a bad day but just a little unrealistic. This imperfection leads to some interesting problems solving skills. In my delusional world, all problems can be solved with a hot shower, pot of fresh brewed coffee and few extra hours in the rack. Just like that, problems solved and back to the perfection of the delusional world.

What is your delusional world like?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Tech Tip!

Full size image as blogger would create, typicalOne question that I get asked often is, "How do I block my images from being downloaded?" I know we all have those pictures that we just can't help but show off, but we don't want other people to steal them from our sites either. For all those who have wondered, here is my take on protecting images as it relates to blogging (full blown websites have other options available).
The transparent gif overlay, is one of those nerdy solutions. Some people have resorted to putting a transparent gif image over the top of their image so when the right click save as feature is employed the user in theory downloads the transparent image. The naked truth is that it really doesn't work, a screen capture or viewing the source code and the image is still vulnerable to the vultures.

Right click blocking, is a very annoying Java script routine that can be used to disable the right click menu. Weaknesses are blocking javascript destroys this protection and almost all right click menu options are available from other toolbars. All that is successfully accomplished is annoying your webpage viewers who employ the right click menu for other reasons.

Another way is to remove the ability for the image to be viewed at full size by clicking on the image, but this is not fool proof either. Still allows the thumbnail image to be downloaded directly and often a talented comp-nerd(ette) can still get to the actual image. This is done by switching to HTML edit after the picture has been added and delete a line of code that looks like this...Nah, I can't tell you all that here, you would probably mess it up and blame it on me when your blog pukes onto your keyboard. For those who are familiar with html, remove the href information from the image code; which of course you already know that. ;)
small image with no href informationAnother way to protect your images is to use a second party hosting sight and display them on your blog as a slideshow. Screen captures can still pilfer the image, but will be limited to the resolution of the slideshow and not the full image. Whole shows can be lifted by the real talented and probably even edited, but it takes more than the average Joe would have available to them.

I can go on and on, but here is what I suggest to those who want to protect their image. First, don't upload your full resolution image for hosting. Start by resizing or exporting your image as a 640 x 480 image(no bigger, smaller is good), which is good enough for most people to look at and go "woot-woo" anyways. Secondly, if you have the ability to digitally edit your images, put a translucent copyright watermark on the image. Thirdly, you have to assume that all really awesome pictures that you post will be downloaded and reused so make sure you are absolutely okay with that before uploading the image.

Image watermarking is a good way to brand your images so that when they are reused, everyone can see who watermarked the image. People like to put copyright watermarks on the edges of the images, which I do not recommend since the image can just be cropped inside the watermark. I like to place my watermarks in places that when they are cropped out the image is not that great and to use colors that would make it difficult to photoshop out the watermark. Watermarking in photoshop is real easy and is done by simply creating a new layer, setting the transparency to about 40-50% and pasting another image and/or text onto that layer. Next flatten the image and save it as a jpg file. Presto, easy as eating apple pie, well at least for those who are intimately familiar with digital editing software.
Watermarked small image with href information retainedI recommend posting images that look like this when you want to share them but still have them at least somewhat secured for re-use by all the web-vultures out there. Remember the ol' adage, make something idiot proof and someone will develop a more talented idiot. Maybe next month I will offer advice how to be a successful image vulture...