Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Name That Team!

I am taking the plunge.

With the encouragement of family, friends, and virtual acquaintances, I have decided to enter my first barbecue contest.
The Big Pig Gig is a KCBS sanctioned contest being held in Menomonee Falls on September 29 & 29.

I've got my recipes. I've got my smokers. I even have a barbecue related corporate affiliation. But I do not have a team name.

Please cast your vote for your favorite team name on the sidebar poll. If you have another team name suggestion, please post it in the comments of this post.

The polling will continue until the name I like best wins.

Fractured Fairy Tales, Part 1: Minimum mark-up

When gas was a buck, Big Oil was mandated to make at least 9.2 cents in gross profit per gallon and was happy.

Gas is now $3.50 and Big Oil is mandated to make 32.1 cents per gallon in gross profit in Wisconsin. Big Oil is very happy.

Would Big Oil be happy with 30 cents a gallon? Probably.

How about 25 cents? Maybe.

$0.20 per gallon? Possibly.

But we will never know. Because Big Tax mandates that Big Oil mark up the motor fuels it sells in Wisconsin by at least 9.18%.

The fact that Big Oil is making 32 cents per gallon upsets Big Tax. Big Tax says that 32 cents per gallon is an outrage, Big Oil does not deserve that much profit.

Big Tax has the ability to reduce the amount of profit that Big Oil is making in Wisconsin. Big Tax can simply repeal the State’s minimum mark-up law and Big Oil will sell it's fuels for less.

But Big Tax says, “I am the Gatekeeper. This cannot be done. Big Oil must reduce it’s profit without reducing it’s mark-up."

Big Tax intends to punish Big Oil for following the laws imposed by Big Tax. Fortunately for Big Oil, but unfortunately for you
and me, the only entity that Big Tax answers to will declare that Big Tax cannot punish Big Oil. The punishment will be paid by you and me.

Meanwhile, Big Tax has dislocated a shoulder patting his own back for punishing Big Oil.

Elsewhere, African American Alderman Michael McGee claimed from his Milwaukee County jail cell that racial bias was behind his Federal prosecution for bribery and extortion. He said he was only following the spirit and example of Caucasian Governor Jim Doyle in finding ways to creatively enhance revenues.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

ISD III Follow-up

One of my guests happened to capture this candid image of Headless pullin' pork (no, not "pullin' his pork," this is a family blog).

You may not believe it, but this photo has been digitally manipulated. Look very closely at the back of the white chair in the foreground. There was a name there that has been digitally masked.

Stuck on Stupid

Steve Walters is a very stupid man.
Three giant oil companies - ExxonMobil, BP and Chevron USA - paid $7.3 million in Wisconsin corporate income taxes over a three-year period in which they reported worldwide profits of $165.7 billion, state Department of Revenue records show.

And two other oil companies - Shell and Murphy Oil, which has a Wisconsin refinery - paid no Wisconsin corporate income taxes in 2003, '04 and '05. Shell reported profits of $55.9 billion in those years; Murphy Oil had profits of $1.8 billion.
No Sierra Sherlock. What kind of logic are you using? They avoid declaring income in Wisconsin for a reason.

Wisconsin has no right to tax entities for profits they have earned in other states and nations. That is why they incorporate in Delaware (and other tax advantaged states) and organize their business to avoid booking income in Tax Whore Wisconsin. They do what WI residents cannot, shield income from our oppressive income taxes.

How about a gross receipts tax on the Windows operating system? Microsoft sells it here and makes loads of money. We deserve our cut.

Even Barry Bonds only pays WI income taxes for the games played in Milwaukee.

Walters, you are pathetically dumb.

Elsewhere, in a prepared statement, Governor Jim Doyle said, "I want mine. Mine. Mine. Mine. It is not fair. If I don't get mine, I'm going to hold my breath ... no ... I'm not going to let you sell gas in Wisconsin anymore. Mine!"

HT - Borowitz Report for the "Elsewhere, ..." thing.

Monday, May 28, 2007

While the Badger Blog Alliance is on holiday ...

McGee arrested in federal case

Ald. Michael McGee was arrested Monday by Milwaukee police on a case that is being jointly investigated by federal and state authorities, officials said tonight.

McGee is under investigation for potential public corruption charges, according to sources familiar with the probe, which has been placed under seal. Further details are expected tomorrow when U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic and Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm are expected to hold a joint news conference.

It was unclear where and under what circumstances McGee was arrested, but the sources said the arrest was made earlier than planned because investigators suspected the potential for violence.
Geezoman. I can't wait hear what this is all about.

Apparently it is not business as usual for the DA's office since E. Mike retired. John Chisholm may have a lot of Milwaukee politicians shaking in their boots.

Update: Franklin Mountain Lion

It didn't take long for the folks at Cryptomundo to debunk this one.

This comments thread examined the original photos and quickly concluded that the Franklin photos are fake. I especially like hlw's logic:
If these were real… The first pic shows the cat walking towards the photographer, and he doesnt get one as he gets closer ? or if it turns away. This photo is of the rear of the building (dumpsters and access road) the second photo is of the front of the building (corporate sign and main street). No pics between? no pics coming or going when your this close? No side or butt views after traveling all the way around the building? No need to worry about photo shop the human element here is enough to say fake.
With digital photography, who takes only two photos of anything? I take multiple shots of intimate object to capture the best image.

That was followed up with a post of the original mountain lion photo.

Nice job guys at Pen & Inc of Milwaukee. Now get back to work. I hope the boss doesn't find out how many hours went into those Photoshop pictures.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

ISD III Postmortum - Wrap up

Please post any recipe requests in comments. I will post the recipes on the blog.

Special thanks to my team of stellar performers. Great job Team Weber!

I wanted to show that I did have help eating all this food.

See you next year.

ISD III Postmortum - The Desserts

Mrs. Headless out did me again. These are her dessert offerings.

Pecan Passion.

Walnut Fig Tart with Ancho Chiles and Lemon Bars.

Brownies and Over the Top Caramel Candy Bars.

Summer Berry Crumble Bars and Chocolate Raspberry Bars.

I cannot eat another bite.

ISD III Postmortum - Cooked Meat

In the midst of the Smoke Day mayhem, I remembered to occasionally snap some photos of the main attraction.

These are hot links smoking in the WSM with baby back ribs on the rack beneath them.

I split the brisket point from the flat after the flat was fully cooked. The point was placed in a pan and cooking continued to make burnt ends.

Pulled pork and beef.

Some of the meats from Smoke Day - (counter clockwise from bottom) Millionaire Brisket Flat, smoked hot links, barbecued beef back rib, BRIMBY* Baby Back Ribs, and Brisket Burnt Ends.

The most popular items were the baby back ribs, pulled pork, cherry wood smoked Coca-Cola Drumsticks (not pictured), and the burnt ends. I was surprised with how easy the burnt ends were to make and their popularity. The Cola-Cola chicken was also a huge hit.

* Best Ribs in My Back Yard

ISD III Postmortum - Sides & Sauce

Do it yourself fruit salad! Inspiration comes when you have too much fruit and no bowl large enough to hold it all.

The saucing station, featuring Roadhouse Barbecue Sauce.

It was especially cool that Buddy and Daddy Roadhouse were in Waukesha County yesterday to demo their sauces at the Sendik's and Grasch grocery stores. Buddy accepted my invitation and he and his dad feasted on my barbecue with their sauce. A heaven made match.

ISD III Postmortum - Prepping the Meat

I was too busy cooking and entertaining to post for the last couple of days. Today is catch up time.

Two picnic shoulders rubbed and ready to barbecue.

Beef chuck roll in the Weber Smokey Mountain cooker.

A whole brisket following application of dry rub.

More to come.

Friday, May 25, 2007

This is not an isolated occurence

Is legislative oversight of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's role in this event too much to ask?

Lost load snarls traffic in Falls

A steel cylinder weighing more than a herd of elephants tumbled off a truck here Thursday and snarled traffic all day, prompting state officials to halt all such future shipments.

Bound for a wind farm in Iowa, the 55-foot section of windmill fell onto the road shortly before 10 a.m. as startled onlookers watched in the center of the village's downtown business district.

"It just went 'thud,' " eyewitness Joyce Block said.

The colossal cargo came to a rest at Main St. and Appleton Ave., both state highways, where it blocked traffic throughout the day until about 9:25 p.m. and left downtown merchants cut off from their customers.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation had begun issuing permits for an expected 140 shipments of windmill parts continuing throughout the summer. A handful or so had already passed through the village in recent days without incident.

But village officials interceded after Thursday's mishap and persuaded the state to suspend all permits issued to a trucking company for Gamesa Wind US, a manufacturer and operator of wind energy systems.

What the article does not say is that the trucking company does not choose their own route. The routes are assigned by Wisconsin's own DOT. The DOT's priorities seem to be to route these oversized and overweight loads through areas where the greatest chance of an incident exists.

When the new reactor head for the Kewaunee Nuclear Plant was transported through the state three years ago, the DOT ran the load through the area near Wildcat Mountain State Park in the Southwest part of the state. The turns were so sharp and grade so steep on the route that the truck hauling the load could not complete the trip without help from a pair of additional diesel tractors.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My ISD Lineup

Clockwise from lower left:
  • 3 Racks of Beef Back Ribs (12 pounds)
  • 4 Racks of Baby Back Ribs (10 pounds)
  • 7 Hot Links (4 pounds)
  • 2 Pork Shoulder Picnic Roasts (20 pounds)
  • 1 Whole Beef Brisket (10 pounds)
  • A Buttload of Chicken Drumsticks (4 pounds)
  • 1 Beef Chuck Roll (8 pounds)
68 pounds total. My cost $110.

I will also pick up 3 or 4 whole chickens on Saturday.

Smoke Day preparations are underway

My 8 pound beef chuck roll rubbed with Paul Kirk's Chuck Wagon Beef Rub. It is now resting in the refrigerator and will go on the WSM tomorrow at 8:00 p.m.

Mrs. Headless has been busy with desserts. I assume that this is the Pecan Passion.


Dang, I wish I could look that cool in my Entergy hardhat.

It is nice to ocassionally find a non-airhead from Hollywood.

Cool Hand Nuke

Actor and race car driver Paul Newman and Eddie Wachs, also a racer, were guests of Indian Point as they got an on-the-ground look at the Buchanan, N.Y. nuclear power plant. The visit, arranged in-part by the Nuclear Energy Institute, was the result of Newman and Wachs’ interest in nuclear power as part of the solution to global climate change.

They were briefed by Entergy Nuclear President Mike Kansler and Site Vice President Fred Dacimo before they embarked on a walking tour of the facility.

Kansler explained to the famous racing duo that nuclear power is the largest emission-free energy source in the United States and Entergy is dedicated to reducing Carbon Dioxide emissions.

Newman questioned the group on the prospects for new nuclear construction and wondered how prepared the country was to produce the talent to run the next generation of plants. Bowman, who is on the board of a number of nuclear engineering programs, indicated that there has been a recent up surge in interest among young people in nuclear engineering programs but the construction and fabrication knowledge base has eroded over the years.
Newman's statement following the tour.

I recently toured the Indian Point nuclear plant and I expected to be shown safety and security at the plant. But what I saw exceeded my expectations. No Army or Navy base I’ve ever visited has been more armored and I couldn’t walk 30 feet inside the plant without swiping my key card to go through another security check point.

There was security at every turn, and the commitment to safety is clear. One worker told me his family lives very close to the plant, downwind even, and he is very comfortable because of the plant's commitment to safety.

During my tour of the plant, I was amazed that a generator that is the size of two or three rooms of my home can provide electricity for 1 million people without producing any greenhouse gas emissions.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cat fight

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is this all about?

The old rule was that only show that exists is your own show. Belling and Sykes should learn it.

This is getting tedious.

The McBride Release - A different take

I noticed when visiting Jessica McBride's new (old) blog that there was an old post announcing her move from her old (now new) blog to her new (now defunct) blog hosted by WTMJ. The date of this post was exactly one year prior to her first new post on her resurrected new (old) blog.

What's my point? Jessica had hosted her radio program at WTMJ for one year. It should not be a surprise that an appraisal of the show's performance would occur around the one-year mark, and changes made if WTMJ management's expectations were not satisfied.

I see no reason to get spun up about her release.

Franklin Mountain Lion

These photos are being spread by email. They don't look like obvious Photoshop fakes to me.

The message reads:

I thought you'd be very interested to see these:

Here are a couple of photos of the very elusive, but much talked about, Mountain Lion supposedly roaming Franklin - well, you can believe the rumors now!!! These were taken from the safety of OUR OWN BUILDING (Pen& Inc. of Milwaukee), while the Mountain Lion clearly checked out Our lot! Go ahead pass these around - they're the ONLY photographs of the animal taken that day!!!

Pen & Inc. is located here.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Driving tip

Here is a tip for all drivers.

If you drive a delivery van with your corporate logo on the side and company name on the vanity plate you should avoid this situation. When driving at close to 100 mph northbound on I-94 in Racine County, if a driver in front of you needs to suddenly change lanes at 70 mph due to a delivery truck pulling in front him and you need to lock up your brakes to avoid rear-ending him - it is not a good idea to yell at and make rude gestures to that other driver.

Especially if your office phone number is on the side of your van and the other driver has a cell phone in his car (what are the chances of that?).

I hope you find this advice to be helpful.

One Week

Raspberry Crumble Tart

Turtle Bars

Rhubarb Bars

Lemon Curd Berry bars

Walnut Fig Tart with Ancho Chiles

Pecan Passion

And ribs, too.

Friday, May 18, 2007

ISD III Recipes - Drumsticks

My son loves dark-meat chicken, so I'll be making the Coke-Brined Grilled Chicken from the June 2007 Cuisine at Home magazine next Saturday. The brine uses 1 litre of Coca-Cola and 1/2 cup kosher salt for 4 pounds of chicken. The chicken is then rubbed with a fairly basic BBQ rub and grilled. I'll smoke the drumsticks low & slow in one of my Weber kettles with cherry wood for smoke.

There is a Coca-Cola barbecue sauce recipe in Raichlen's Sauces, Rubs, Marinades, ... book that I may make to go with the chicken.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

More lessons in self destruction

More on FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's bizarre decision to renege on their plea agreement and contradict their basis for restarting the Davis Besse nuclear reactor.

David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety critic with the Union of Concerned Scientists, jumped on the inconsistency in the FENOC position.
Lochbaum filed a petition with the NRC to have the license for Davis Besse revoked. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:

In a petition to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the watchdog group demands the agency determine which scenario is correct. Until the NRC makes up its mind, it should order the Toledo-area power plant to shut down, the petition argues.

If the NRC agrees with the controversial new analysis, the agency should suspend operations at the nation's 68 similar reactors because current inspection methods and intervals aren't enough to stop fast-growing corrosion from leading to a reactor rupture. Davis-Besse was two to 13 months from such a catastrophic accident, experts have determined.

If the NRC decides the new analysis is not credible, it should punish the utility for again misleading the agency - something FirstEnergy already has admitted to doing about Davis-Besse's deteriorating condition.

"If the report is right, Americans across the country are exposed to unnecessarily high risk," the petition said. "If the report is wrong, Ohioans are once again duped by a deceitful [FirstEnergy]."

NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said the agency will review the concerns and respond within two weeks.

The utility's new analysis says the pineapple-sized hole, caused when cracks leaked high-pressure reactor coolant, formed in Davis-Besse's massive carbon steel reactor lid in just a few weeks - not four years, as FirstEnergy, the NRC and nuclear industry experts all believed.

The report's conclusion puts FirstEnergy at odds with its own previous determination about how and why the nuclear near-miss happened. In order to earn permission to restart the crippled plant in 2004, the company accepted blame for missing ample and repeated warning signs of corrosion, made massive reforms and paid a record $5.45 million fine to the NRC. Davis-Besse also replaced the corroded lid.

The new analysis, prepared by Exponent Failure Analysis Associates, says the quick-acting corrosion happened while the reactor was running after its last inspection, so there was no way FirstEnergy could have caught the problem.

That argument may help FirstEnergy collect nearly $200 million in insurance money, but it has opened a can of worms with the NRC and may have broad implications for the nuclear industry.
David Lochbaum is no anti-nuke flake. Lochbaum is a nuclear professional who shared an office with Headless Blogger in the 1980's during restart efforts for TVA's Browns Ferry Unit 2 (coincidentally, Browns Ferry Unit 1 finally restarted this week). His evaluation of the FENOC position has merit.

The NRC responded in record time to Lochbaum's filing and FirstEnergy's changing story. The NRC issued a Demand for Information to FENOC this week (the first DFI issued since 1997). In the Demand, the NRC went beyond even what Lochbaum petitioned, putting FENOC's nuclear operating license in jeopardy for not only Davis Besse, but also for FENOC's three other units in Ohio and Pennsylvania.


The NRC provided
FirstEnergy with strong clues in their Demand for Information as to the legal peril they face as the result of issuing this new report. Based on previous evidence, NRC has basis to believe that the Exponent Report was used by FENOC in a legal proceeding with the knowledge that the postulated scenario was implausible.

The DFI points to FENOC being aware that physical evidence of reactor head erosion in the form of ferric oxide in containment existed for several years prior to discovery of the physical condition of the head. Therefore, although the Exponent Report accurately provides a plausible explanation of how erosion of the Davis Besse head could have occurred, physical evidence is present that proves it occurred by a different mechanism.

This leaves the NRC with a clear mandate to severely punish FirstEnergy again. FENOC may have proven itself to be untrustworthy. Depending on the FENOC response to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Demand for Information, the NRC may have no choice but to revoke the Operating Licenses for FENOC's four nuclear reactors.

The nuke with a hole in the head keeps digging

The Cleveland Plain Dealer sets the stage:

CLEVELAND (AP) — The owner of a nuclear power plant where an acid leak nearly ate through a steel lid on the reactor vessel is trying to distance itself from blame while fighting a $200 million insurance dispute, a newspaper reported Sunday.

FirstEnergy Corp. paid a record $5.45 million fine from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and $28 million in civil penalties after acknowledging it failed to stop the leak at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant near Toledo.

The leak, discovered by investigators in 2002, was the most extensive corrosion ever seen at a U.S. nuclear reactor. It's not clear how close the plant was to an accident.

The company now argues that corrosion ate through the steel lid so quickly — in four months, not the previously accepted four years — that normal inspections every two years couldn't have caught it, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.

FirstEnergy bases its switch on a new analysis it paid for, the newspaper said. The report by consulting engineers is based on new information, some of it from the government itself.

Some industry observers say they're troubled by findings favorable to Akron-based FirstEnergy and what they say is a failure to take into account contradictory information.

"I think — and this is a personal opinion — that some of the arguments presented in the report were selective," said Alex Marion, executive director of nuclear operations and engineering for the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group.

The Davis-Besse plant was closed for two years after the damage was discovered but returned to full power in 2004. FirstEnergy spent $600 million making repairs and buying replacement power because of the shutdown.

What FENOC has done is to change the story they told to their regulator in order to demonstrate their plant was safe to restart. FirstEnergy provided that previous explanation to the NRC under oath and affirmation.

FENOC also entered a DOJ plea deal in 2005 that required them not to contradict the agreed-upon facts submitted to the NRC.

FENOC was also obligated by federal regulation to evaluate this new information to determine if Davis Besse remained safe to operate under the new scenario. Instead FENOC used this information for commercial advantage with their insurer and ignored their utmost obligation as a nuclear licensee, to ensure the health and safety of the public.

Headless Blogger has learned that the new analysis was commissioned by FENOC's legal department and refuted internally by a FENOC metallurgy expert. The FENOC's expert advised the company not to submit the report to the insurer.

More to come ...

Zeke gets taken out

Zeke Clark resigned as Palisades Security Manager last week. His story is getting some excited local coverage and stirring up some nuclear opponents.

Contacted this morning, Palisades communications manager Mark Savage would neither confirm nor deny that management there suspected a security breach but said Palisades' owner, New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., is investigating information from the Esquire article to determine whether an investigation is warranted.

Savage said a complete background check was conducted on Clark before he was hired at Palisades in early 2006. After taking administrative leave because of a medical condition that Savage said was unrelated to the accusations in the Esquire article, Clark resigned May 9. Since then, his security access to the plant has been suspended, Savage said.


Esquire released the story on its Web site Friday. Tuesday, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service issued a press release criticizing Palisades for failing to detect false assertions in Clark's resume.

``Apparently, a journalist can do a much better background check than Entergy and Consumer security officials,'' Toledo attorney Terry Lodge said in the press release.

It is too bad that Consumers Power and Entergy are getting stink on them from this story. Clark was hired by Nuclear Management Company. Consumers and Entergy were not responsible for Clark's hiring, and he lasted less than one month with Entergy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Planet Gore nails another one

A great post at Planet Gore today on ethanol use in modern engines. They explain that the current gasoline price spike is not due to oil commodity prices*, but to the Spring to Summer fuel formulation switch. But there is no longer a basis for the switch to Summer blends due to modern engine technologies. It is just another federally imposed screw-job.

The post references this excellent piece by Patrick Bedard in Car & Driver which debunks several ethanol myths.

* There hasn't been a corresponding spike in diesel prices. I spotted diesel priced 80 cents less per gallon than unleaded in Indiana.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Stick a fork in NASCAR

NASCAR develops this "Car of Tomorrow" with the idea that the COT will make the races more competitive by evening out the cars. It is working great if your name is Gordon or Johnson. But not for any other drivers.


Not Performing at Int'l Smoke Day

Unfortunately, the renowned Play It Again Tom, aka Fish Fry Tommy, aka Tom Wroblewski will be unable to rock out the crowd from my back deck. I am counting on him being here in 2008.

Sal and his tapas barflies might note that Play It Again Tom is employed by a Swedish multi-national forest products company (not tongue depressors). He is available and willing to perform at any event in Europe on short notice. Contact Tom at for booking information.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Jumping the shark

This nickname contest for the Brewers in today's paper will cause some bad, bad mojo. The team stands 14 games over .500 right now. This kind of talk means that we'll be seeing a lot of losing starting soon.

When the Brewers are back to .500 by the All Star break. I will know who is to blame.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

ISD III Recipes - Brisket

The first recipe I have settled on for International Smoke Day is Millionaire Brisket with Coffee and Beer Mop Sauce from Steven Raichlen's BBQ USA. The recipe is available online here. I intend to cook a 10 pound packer brisket using the high temperature method on a Weber kettle, removing the meat after 5 to 6 hours to rest and finish. Probable smoke wood is pecan, hickory and whiskey barrel oak.

While the brisket flat is resting, I will remove the point and use this method to create Burnt Ends (see photo).
Both recipes will be firsts for me.

Counting down: Two weeks to brisket

The list of side dishes is being finalized.
  • Bacon Barbecued Beans
  • Granny Smith Coleslaw
  • Potato Salad
  • Baked Mac & Cheese
  • Corn & Black Bean Salad
  • Fruit Salad
  • Baked Cornbread Casserole
Standby for desserts.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Nuclear security

If you learned that the man in this photo -- a professional assassin -- was the head of security at one of our nation’s most vulnerable nuclear facilities, would it trouble you? Or would it sound like one hell of a story?
I think I'll feel a little safer when I return to work on Monday. I'll also be more likely to obey the site's 15 mph speed limit.

The rest of the story is here.