Saturday, October 27, 2007

Halloween 2007 - The Costume

Stuck for an idea for
Freak Fest?

This year's top choice will be a no-brainer in retrospect. Head to Menards and fabricate a light-weight portable bathroom stall. The Senator Craig nameplate is optional.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Hey Dad!

I told ya so. Twice.

Rep. Huebsch, now that Jim failed to keep his "important" promise, do you swallow or spit?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Center of the storm

For over one year, my life has revolved around some of the issues addressed in this NRC letter. A PDF of the letter is available at the NRC's ADAMS document management system. Perform an Advanced Search and enter "Babcock Wilcox" in the Search: box and "10/09/2007" in the Document Date box to view the document (I have not been able to create a direct link).

To stay on the safe side of a confidentiality agreement I will not be commenting on this matter. Below is a relevant excerpt, you may draw your own conclusions.

Note to John Sullivan, I think this is the information you were fishing for this past March.
b.2 Implementation of the Welding Procedures

The inspectors interviewed a BWC Weld Operator who worked on the Palisades RRVCH. The weld operator described that the Section 6.2.6 visual inspection was to be performed after all grinding was complete on a weld layer. The weld operator noted surface defects were visually identifiable on many welds before grinding. The weld operator would then grind the surface of the weld layer to remove all visual indications. On average, the weld operator stated that he is required to remove approximately 30 percent of the weld layer. The weld operator stated that he would go beyond the estimated 30 percent material removal if a flaw was still visible. Once he had completed all grinding, he would do a visual inspection with a magnifying glass to look for any cracks in accordance with Section 6.2.6 of SIS 259695. The weld operator noted when he performed this visual inspection that no cracks were identified on any weld layer he inspected.

The inspectors identified a failure of BWC weld operators to follow the requirements of Section 6.2.6 of SIS 295695. If, as performed by weld operators working on the Palisades head, grinding was performed until all visual evidence of cracking was removed from the weld layer surface to any depth, then the visual examination for cracking after the grinding operation was complete would find no flaws. Section 6.2.6 stated the layer was to be ground and visually examined by the operator for any cracking. This issue is identified as one example of Nonconformance 99900067/2007-201-02.

The inspectors found that the grinding step described in Section 6.2.6 would be reasonably interpreted to be grinding to a sufficient depth to remove the oxide layer and prep for welding. Removal of 30 percent or more of the weld layer necessary for the removal of all visible flaws goes beyond a general grinding procedure to prep a weld surface for the next layer to be applied. Further, the statement in Section 6.2.6 to "ground remove” flaws, if identified, implied a difference in intended grinding operations. The inspectors found the weld operator’s definition of grinding to go beyond oxide layer removal, to a point of flaw removal was incorrect given the wording of Section 6.2.6. Grinding to remove a flaw should reasonably imply, as stated in Section 6.2.6, a step to perform a PT inspection to verify flaw removal.

c. Conclusions
The inspectors determined through a review of welding and inspection activities associated with the production of the butter weld layers for the Calvert Cliffs and Palisades RRVCHs that BWC is in accordance with the requirements of ASME Code.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Is this good news? - Updated

Assets in college savings plans grow 2.1%

Assets in Wisconsin's state-sponsored college saving programs grew 2.1% in the third quarter to stand at $2.195 billion, according to data from the State Treasurer's office. Of that total, $1.229 billion was in 138,790 EdVest accounts with the rest in 90,583 Tomorrow's Scholar accounts. (By Avrum D. Lank)

First, I do hope that our Treasurer is as good with the balance sheets of billion dollar education investments as she was with balancing her Boston Store cash drawer each night.

Now just for fun, let me do some cyphering. 2.1% in the 3rd quarter is around 8-1/2% growth in a year. Not a bad return for these conservative investments. That may just keep enough ahead of inflation for these families to have substantial nest eggs when junior heads off to college ...........

Er, sratch that.

Data point #1: UW-Madison 2006-2007 Tuition $6,730.24

Data point #2: UW-Madison 2007-2008 Tuition $7,188.40

A tuition increase of 6.8%, yields a net educational investment gain of about 1.7%. It also seems that 2007 has been a very good year for investments (my 401(k) sure thinks so!). So when I throw in some average years and some bad years with this good year, these educational investment programs may barely keep up with the exponential cost of a college education in Wisconsin.

My advise to these families: Potawotami Bingo Casino. Your chances of successfully funding that education are about the same, but you can have a lot of fun with the Potowatomi's.

Can someone tell me again why UW costs went up 7% since last year?

Disclaimer: I'm just an engineer with a MBA, so take these results with a grain of salt.

Update: Dang, I am good. Those tuition numbers are for my daughter. I didn't realize that JSOnline had an article on rising in-state tuition running on the same webpage as Mr. Lank's piece on the savings programs.

Over the past decade, however, Wisconsin's public-school tuition - not including fees - has more than doubled for in-state undergraduates, including those attending the state's two-year colleges.

Between 1997-'98 and this year, annual tuition rose from $2,860 to $6,330 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and from $2,847 to $6,191 at UW-Milwaukee.

Tuition at the state's four-year universities not including Madison and Milwaukee rose on average from $2,312 to $4,819.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

VCast Music

I've been beating my brain out for months trying to get any of three separate Verizon phones (2 different LG models and a Motorola) to be recognized by any of my PC's.

I purchased the correct software at the Verizon Wireless store, installed it as directed, but the driver for the phone was never there. I even spent over 2 hours on the phone with Verizon Tech Support one weekend, doing the same things over & over, and reaching ever higher levels of support with never a successful solution.

Today success. I was able to find a driver that works with my phone. It was available for free download at the I Gone Mobile website. No need for the VCast interface, I was able to rip my CD's with Windows Media Player and upload them to the phone using the cable I purchased from Verizon and Windows Explorer.

Everything I want (music) and need (a fine telecommunications device) in a free mobile phone that feels like a phone (not a PDA).

Something about that picture of Mitt

That same glove.

That same look.

He may have a future in music videos.

Do not click the pictures. Don't do it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

My problem with XM

Now when I hear some obscure song, the name and artist appear on the screen of my XM receiver. I can also set the receiver to alert me when ever the song plays.

Lately I've been stuck on the guitar lick from My Own Worst Enemy by Lit. This appears to be the original music video.

Don't tell me to act my age.

I-43 Revenue Enhancement

This past weekend I made a roundtrip to Manitowoc from Milwaukee County on I-43. On the return trip, Mr. Headless mentioned that she saw more police in Sheboygan and Ozaukee Counties in that one day than she has seen in all the trips through Chicago in her life.

After thinking about it, I must agree. I too saw more more traffic enforcement in that one day than I have seen in all my twice weekly trips on the Tri-State or through Chicago over the last 15 months. Probably more than I saw in Wisconsin from the border to Pewaukee in all those trips, too. And probably more than in all my weekly Pewaukee to Hudson round-trips over the year prior to that.

Don't they have any higher priorities up there? Like putting sex offenders away or incarcerating stalkers.

I also note that the latest trials of my cloaking device continue with success. At 70 mph, my vehicle is invisible to police radar.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

SCHIP - blah blah blah

I'm tired of the issue, but not of Mark Steyn's writing. Some highlight's from his column at NRO, never mind the context, these are simply fun to read.
Etc. So what is the best thing America could do “for the children”? Well, it could try not to make the same mistake as most of the rest of the western world and avoid bequeathing the next generation a system of unsustainable entitlements that turns the entire nation into a giant Ponzi scheme.

So what? shrug the voters. Not my problem. I paid my taxes, I want my benefits. In France, President Sarkozy is proposing a very modest step — that those who retire before the age of 65 should not receive free health care — and the French are up in arms about it. He’s being angrily denounced by 53-year old retirees, a demographic hitherto unknown to functioning societies. You spend your first 25 years being educated, you work for two or three decades, and then you spend a third of a century living off a lavish pension with the state picking up every healthcare expense. No society can make that math add up. And so in a democratic system today’s electors vote to keep the government gravy coming and leave it to tomorrow for “the children” to worry about. That’s the real “war on children” — and every time you add a new entitlement to the budget you make it less and less likely they’ll win it.

The Frosts are not emblematic of the health care needs of America so much as they are of the delusion of the broader western world. They expect to be able to work “part-time” and “intermittently” but own two properties and three premium vehicles and have the state pick up health-care costs. Who do you stick the bill to? Four-car owners?

As Gerald Ford likes to say when trying to ingratiate himself with conservative audiences, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.” But there’s an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give you everything you want isn’t big enough to get you to give any of it back. As I point out in my book, nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: once a fellow’s enjoying the fruits of Euro-style entitlements, he couldn’t give a hoot about the general societal interest; he’s got his, and who cares if it’s going to bankrupt the state a generation hence?
"(O)nce a fellow’s enjoying the fruits of Euro-style entitlements, he couldn’t give a hoot about the general societal interest." Where have I seen that latetly?

Was Socks Vince Foster'ed?

Via Drudge comes
this report on Hillary's dumping of her beloved cat upon leaving the White House. Peter Black comments:
They tell us that as 'the “first pet” of the Clinton era, Socks, the White House cat, allowed “chilly” Hillary Clinton to show a caring, maternal side as well as bringing joy to her daughter Chelsea. So where is Socks today?

Once the presidency was over, there was no room for Socks any more. After years of loyal service at the White House, the black and white cat was dumped on Betty Currie, Bill Clinton’s personal secretary, who also had an embarrassing clean-up role in the saga of his relationship with the intern Monica Lewinsky.'

Obviously, anybody who had to 'clean-up' after Monica deserves the comfort and company of such a gorgeous looking feline but according to the paper, it would have been better for Hillary if she had held onto Socks:

Clinton’s treatment of Socks cuts to the heart of the questions about her candidacy. Is she too cold and calculating to win the presidency? Or does it signify political invincibility by showing she is willing to deploy every weapon to get what she wants?

“In the annals of human evil, off-loading a pet is nowhere near the top of the list,” writes Caitlin Flanagan in the current issue of The Atlantic magazine. “But neither is it dead last, and it is especially galling when said pet has been deployed for years as an all-purpose character reference.”

Socks has been harder to find than Osama bin Laden since Hillary vacated 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I can only speculate, but it would be no surprise to learn that Socks was "humanely euthanized" or even to learn Socks was stuck in a garbage bag and tossed on a busy freeway. I wouldn't want to wear out my usefulness to Mrs. Clinton.

Has anyone seen Socks in the last seven years? We need answers from Hillary.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

War declared on taxpayers

Varifrank's Law No. 1.

You don't get paid by how hard you work, but by how hard you are to replace.
I heard some of Vicki McKenna's discussion of the intimidation of taxpayers by employees of the State of Wisconsin at the rally at the State Capitol on Wednesday. I consider these actions to be a declaration of war on taxpayers by our employees. Too much will never be enough for these lazy ungrateful employees.

Because the majority of these tax-paid positions require non-skilled labor, these employees will be easy to replace.
The obvious solution is to begin outsourcing these jobs to the private sector in order to reduce the out-of-touch pay, benefits and workload of the current lazy, over-paid, under-worked employees.

It is simply time to fight back against the current out of control system.
If the electric company can do it (several times since the early 1990's), there is no reason the State of Wisconsin cannot. This is also one area where I would embrace the employment of undocumented workers to reduce costs.

As an added benefit to the party of taxation, by outsourcing this work to private industry, additional corporate profits will be available for taxation and additional donors created to shakedown.

Mssrs. Zipperer and Kanavas, you must now earn my vote. Vote against this budget. It is time to start over and stand-up against these employees who are at war with us, their employers.

Fill-up at Bubba's

If you need gas while near Manitowoc, please consider getting off
I-43 at Exit 149 and stopping at the Bubba's Place Exxon station to fill up. It may be slightly further from the freeway than some other stations, but Bubba deserves your business for his strong stance for the environment and for his customers.

To reach Bubba's, take Calumet Avenue east from I-43, turn left onto S. Rapids Road, then right at Dewey Street.

Bubba's Place
4611 Dewey Street

Manitowoc, WI 54220

Bus: (920) 682-9960

Friday, October 19, 2007

Happy Days

Six months ago today, in my State of my Cancer Post, I made this statement.
I have also developed a selfish need to see other people be happy. I find ways to do this without even thinking.
Today I report on three more examples of this which occurred during those six months.
It is unusual for me see such emotional happiness.

Happy Person #1.
Last night, the people I work with had a going away party for me and another individual. The party was hosted by a colleague who had just finished working five weeks of a refueling outage. During the outage he worked at least 6 days each week and more than 12 hours each work day. He was also assigned 8 projects to manage, more than half of those being thrown on him when two other PM's decided to retire within one week of the outage's start. The few times I saw my friend during the outage he looked emotionally and physically
spent. I worried about his health, especially knowing some of his medical past.

The party was a pot-luck affair, with the highlights being
a dozen lobster tails (purchased by the other departing worker) that we marinated and grilled, and my grilled beef tenderloin. As dinner was served, our host stayed back and I served him last. As I gave him his plate he very emotionally thanked me and man-hugged me for cooking the meal and organizing the party. Having his friends in his home meant an enormous amount to him, but as he was still recovering from those five grueling weeks, he would not have been able to do it himself. I was overwhelmed by my friends gratitude.

Happy Person # 2. My teammate for The Big Pig Gig Barbecue Contest had requested and expected to tag along with me and watch me prepare the barbecue entries. But about two months before the contest I told him that if he was on the team, he was going to cook. I assigned him to barbecue the ribs using his own techniques and recipes. I was completely hands off.

On the day of the contest, my teammate arrived at my home earlier than I expected. He said he was so excited that he couldn't wait and he had been looking forward to the contest for weeks. We had a great time working as a team that weekend, and I really appreciated having him there to help and carry his share of the load. Following the contest he told me again how much he appreciated being on my team and also said how much it meant to him that I insisted he do it all himself even though he only has a left arm. I had never thought otherwise. My teammate's ribs also scored far higher than my ribs did in my previous contest.

Happy Persons #3 & #4:
My wife's friend (a youngish widow) and my co-worker (a youngish widower - he used to be a miserable little SOB) met at my first ever Smoke Day party. There is very little chance these two would have met otherwise; considering their homes are 50 miles apart and he works 200+ miles from her home. This was not a set-up, I thought my co-worker was in a relationship when I invited him to attend the party.

Following the party, I learned of a mutual attraction between these two and provided enough help (the correct phone number was provided and I insisted that he call her - completely out of character for me) that they started dating shortly thereafter. True love was not far behind. This Wednesday they were engaged to marry. She has nicknamed me Fate.

Fate, divine intervention, serendipity or the hand of Buddha (as my Indian friend genuinely believes); it was some force other than me that made these people happy. My cooking is not that good and I tirelessly protect my reputation as a curmudgeon. But I am thrilled to have witnessed the emotions of my friends.

Oh yeah, 3-1/2 years and still cancer free.

Tom McMahon is brilliant

Another consequence of raising taxes ...

... is that you and I will pay for more of these.

As I walked up the sidewalk I was yelled and cursed at by hundreds of state employees whose salary I pay as a taxpayer.

Public employee unions turned out a massive array of counter protesters. These people were some of the rudest individuals it has ever been my displeasure to encounter. Throughout the entire event the assembled union masses blew horns, chanted and yelled obscenities trying their very best to disrupt the event.

That is from Fred Dooley's post regarding Wednesday's Madison tax rally. I wasn't there, but I have read many of the fine blogposts linked from Charlie's post.

Two points.
  1. By their very presence at the rally, these protesters for raising taxes demonstrated that there are too many tax-paid employees in Wisconsin, with too little to do in their tax-paid jobs and too much tax-paid time off. Did anyone miss the "essential" services these protesters normally provide during their absense on Wednesday? Nope.
  2. New taxes will increase pay and benefits for these tax-paid employees and will also lead to the hiring of more tax-paid employees. This positive feedback loop results in more committed tax-raisers like these protesters, then higher taxes, then more tax-raisers, and so on. With Wisconsin's stagnant population, eventually these vested interests will control the majority of any tax vote and the budget will go super-critical (a nuclear term!).

What to do.

  1. Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch must ram in the control rods on the State budget and take all tax increases off the table. Huebsch must start from the position that the hundreds of tax-paid employees that attended the rally are not needed, and reduce the budget in proportion to their tax-paid salaries and benefits. Further cuts can be made from their.
  2. The Assembly budget should impose a moratorium on the hiring of new tax-paid employees. No sane Republican should support the hiring of additional vested interest tax-raisers. Each additional tax-paid employee puts us that much closer to taxation super-critical mass.

Nip it! Nip it! Nip it!

Before it is too late.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Minimum mark-up

I like the reasoning of Judge William E. Callahan, Jr. in his ruling against the Wisconsin motor fuel minimum mark-up law.
The percentage was last adjusted in 1998 when it moved from 6% to 9.18%, the judge noted. In the past nine years, inflation has gone up 27% but gas prices have gone up 200%, he wrote.

"Given that a markup of 9 cents per gallon was deemed an accurate estimate of the 'costs of doing business' in 1998, it seems curious that a markup or 25 to 30 cents per gallon, which is approximately 200% greater than the markup in 1998, is an accurate estimate of the 'costs of doing business' in 2007," Callahan wrote in an opinion issued Friday.
This wasn't ruled on legal intricacies, but on common sense. The minimum mark-up is not meant to cover the cost of the fuel, it is to cover the cost of selling this fuel. Despite the huge increase of petroleum commodity and refining costs in the last decade, the cost of the retail transaction may have gone up only slightly.

Those kids behind the counter are not making much more than in 1997 and pay-at-the-pump technology has reduced the number of in-store transactions. Frankly, the cost of selling gas has probably dropped substantially in the last decade.

H/T - Dad Two-Nine

Monday, October 15, 2007

Wisconsin State Journal Twofer

Texas Hold 'Em features another story from Madison.

As if brawling teens weren't enough, staff at La Follette High School this week also had to deal with two adults — including the mother of one of the boys — egging on a fight and even taking part in it, police said Friday.

Seven Madison police officers and some 30 staff members were needed Thursday to break up the disturbance at the school at 702 Pflaum Road, which involved three teenage boys and two women who police said Friday encouraged the boys to fight.

One of the women, Sophia Monique Barry, 31, of Madison, who is the mother of one of the boys involved, also "stomped on" a security guard trying to restrain one of the teens, police said.

The incident, which occurred at about 11:15 a.m. and disrupted classes for hundreds of students as staff members dealt with the scuffle, left school officials disgusted, police said.

"A school official told police he was very disturbed by having adults, who don't belong on school property, coming to school to confront kids," according to a police news release.

Hold 'Em makes this point.

This seems to be a problem unique to urban culture. You don’t see these type of brawls breaking out in suburban schools. You don’t see police called to a high school in Waukesha, for example, to break up a fight involving parents. You don’t see high school students in New Berlin calling their thug relatives — parents, brothers, cousins, etc. — to school to engage in an ongoing fight.

You see this in urban areas, which are dominated by the gangsta-thug culture, and overrun with the dysfunctional families of children having children. No values, no sense of right and wrong, just a culture driven by the message of gangsta rap and hip-hop, the primal urge to engage in physical violence whenever they feel wronged or, in the urban lingo, dissed.

Dang, when I attended La Follette in the 1970's it was every bit a suburban school. From what I've seen driving through the area, I don't think I'd label it as urban today. Where is the thug culture coming from?

More proof that Wisconsin needs a part-time legislature

ASSEMBLY BILL 265                                       
An Act relating to: requiring the Department of Administration to study
the feasibility of developing a Wisconsin brand. (FE)2007 04-13.

A. Introduced by Representatives Wieckert, Mursau, Berceau, Albers,
Vos, Owens, Petrowski, Gunderson and Bies; cosponsored by
Senators Roessler and A. Lasee.

No surprise, the Wisconsin State Journal is going along with this gag.

At least a lot of high-powered folks want Wisconsin to have an updated brand image. Their goal is to develop an image that can better sell Wisconsin as a great place to live, spend a vacation and locate a fast-growing business as well as a great place to buy high quality products.

Meetings have met, speakers have spoken and researchers have researched.

There is even a bill circulating in the Legislature that would require the state to study the feasibility of developing a Wisconsin brand image.

We recommend Wisconsin refrain from spending any more than a token amount of taxpayer money on brand imaging. But a feasibility study is a good idea. If the study shows an opportunity to spruce up Wisconsin 's image, let 's do it.

The exercise should prove valuable -- not to mention fun.

You just can't make this stuff up.
H/T - Althouse

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Peameal Bacon - Don't leave Ontario without it

Revisiting my fetish with cured pork products, here is part of my haul from my latest trip to Canada. I brought back a pair of of these cornmeal coated cured pork loins, Peameal Bacon as they call it in Ontario. Despite my attempts at the homemade variety, I have not duplicated authentic Canadian cured back bacon.

So far I've had it in breakfast sandwiches and cooked as chops for lunch.

Not noble enough

Shame. Something sorely needed in Oslo.

The Wall Street Journal puts last week's Nobel Peace Prize travesty in even sharper perspective.

Not Nobel Winners

Some nominees for next year.

In Oslo Friday, the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was not awarded to the Burmese monks whose defiance against, and brutalization at the hands of, the country's military junta in recent weeks captured the attention of the Free World.

The prize was also not awarded to ... read the rest.

HT - Michael Rubin at the Corner.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

More Al Gore

Something for my numerous non-Cheddarsphere readers. Tom McMahon's 4-Block World is a regular stop of mine and is usually a hoot. This one is no exception, and has a profound truth to it, too.

Nobel Larureate Al Gore - Assorted Thoughts

Number 1
GOP Vixen digs right to the point of Al Gore's Nobel prize that gets under my skin.

What's nauseating is not so much another honor for Gore, but those whose struggles have been ignored to throw wreaths at the ex-vice president (and Manbearpig hunter, hat tip to "South Park"). What about Father Nguyen Van Ly, the Vietnamese priest who's worked tirelessly for democracy and spent years in and out of dank prisons for rallying the people for freedom? What about Kareem Amer, the Egyptian blogger who advocated peace and justice, and now sits in prison? What about the monks of Burma, many of whom are now dead or missing because, as the world stood by and just watched, they took the lead to demand democracy in peaceful marches through Myanmar's streets?

Then again, none of those people really working for peace has ever walked a red carpet -- just seen the red of bloodshed and oppression in countries few seem to care about anymore, and did all in their power to make a difference.

The Nobel Peace Prize has become no different than any other Hollywood/elitist award. These awards and prizes are for politics and/or popularity, merit no longer is a factor.

Number 2 - Based on protecting the world from man made climate change, I deserve the award more than Gore.

I've put in over twenty-five years in the carbon friendly nuclear power business. I drive a crappy little gas-sipping automobile. I never fly on a private jet. I don't profit from fraudulent carbon-trading schemes. Residents in my 2,000-ish square foot home sweat in the summer and shiver in the winter (you can confirm this with Mrs. Headless). Most of my 8 acre property is a deeded natural conservancy (no mining is happening here).

I've done more to reduce worldwide carbon emissions than Gore. I also personally emit a butt-load less carbon on a daily basis than Al Gore.

Al - Send me the money. You can keep the medal and honors.

Number 3 - The one person most upset with this award has to be Bill Clinton. After all the whoring Clinton has done to position himself for a Nobel prize, both in office and now in private life, Vice-Dummy Gore wins it for his phony weather thing. Bill must be seething.

Pretty damn funny.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What I didn't drink tonight

Sharing a beer tent with 4,000 drunken hosers is a young man's pastime.

I decided to pass.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What I was drinking - The Vesper

Dinner tonight was at Martini's in Kitchener. I ordered Bond's favorite cocktail from Casino Royale, The Vesper. The recipe in the movie goes like this.

The Vesper Martini

3 oz Gordon's Gin
1 oz Vodka
0.5 oz Lillet Blanc

Shake with ice and strain into a wine glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Martini's served this.


Smirnoff vodka
Tanqueray gin
Twist of lemon

A fine cocktail, but the lack of Lillet was noticible, I think they used Martini & Rossi.

My favorite martini related lines from Casino Royale.
James Bond: [after Bond has just lost his 10 million in the game, to the bartender] Vodka-martini.
Bartender: Shaken or stirred?
James Bond: Do I look like I give a damn?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

What I am drinking - Hopalicious

It really is!

Eleven separate additions of cascade hops give this American pale ale its lush citrus aroma and bold hop flavor without crazy bitterness.

What I am drinking - Frontera Chardonnay


We opened the chardonnay to make the wild mushroom cream sauce to go over the polenta souffles (recipe available in the November 2007 Bon Appetit). The souffles were excellent, the wine sucked. Also on the menu --- grilled tri-tip roast, steamed haricots verts, and mashed Hubbard squash. Baked apple dumplings for dessert.

Damn fine dinner considering the only thing on the menu at noon today was the beef tri-tip.

Find a different wine.

What I am drinking - Rum Old Fashioned

Inspired by Robert Hess's brilliant tequila interpretation of the Old Fashioned, I decided to try an Old Fashioned with a rum base. Rum, being produced from sugar cane, should benefit from a cane sweetener base.
  • 1-1/2 oz. good quality Rum - I used Plantation Grande Reserve Rum from Barbados ($14.99 at Discount Liquor)
  • 1 teaspoon cane sugar syrup - a natural Southern American sweetener, I found mine at that market in Atlanta where Alton Brown shops
  • 2 Cherries for garnish - I used Lazzaris Ciliegie in Sciroppo di Amarena, I bought these at Sendik's (these are really good)
  • 1/2 teaspoon syrup from the cherries
  • 3 dashes of Fee Brothers orange bitters
Add cane syrup, syrup from cherries and bitters to a small Old Fashioned glass. Add cracked ice, and stir briefly. Pour rum over the ice, and stir again. Spear two cherries and place in drink. Serve with straws.

Not exactly a Tequila Old Fashioned, but not bad. I think I will have another. I'll add an orange slice to the garnish next time, if I have an orange available.

What I am drinking

I spotted Robert Hess's recipe for a Tequila Old Fashioned earlier this week at the Spirit World website. Yesterday at Woodman's I scored some agave nectar and Fee Brother's Orange Bitters, which I've been searching for forever. Substituting cheap tequila and orange bitters, I proclaim Robert's recipe to be brilliant.

Mr. Hess just may be the best bartender (drink chef?) in the nation.

Inspired by this, a Rum Old Fashioned is next for me.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Flip-flop this, Fred

Sorry Sean, but I won't be supporting Fred Thompson in the primary election.
Thompson Does About-Face on Ethanol Subsidies

He voted against them in the Senate. But after
touring an ethanol plant in Iowa today, he considers them "
a matter now of national security."

I think the reason is self explanatory.

H/T - Stephen Spruiell at The Corner

Monday, October 01, 2007

High level meeting in Menomonee Falls

I had the good fortune of meeting Dad 29 at The Big Pig Gig barbecue competition in Menomonee Falls Saturday. Our meeting resembled the above photograph. My team and guests enjoyed meeting and conversing with Dad29 and we are thrilled to finally know what that name means.

The image below is an actual photograh of Dad and Headless conversing.

White Men Can't Smoke had a super time cooking and socializing, and we had a big scoring jump from our first contest. No high placing for my barbecue, but the mini-brats from Glen's Market in Watertown took 3rd place (yes, those are mini-steins of beer).

Every bit of food we cooked was consumed by my team and guests, or handed out as samples. The positive feedback was appreciated. The crowds were huge on both days and exceeded my expectations.

The tartlettes Mrs. Headless prepared for dessert were up to her usual high standards. We are hoping for a dessert category at next year's The Big Pig Gig, so she can take home some cash.

We'll see you all in Menomonee Falls next year.