All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.

Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!


Hang on to Your Hats…

Since I put in that new wood floor at my house a while back, I’ve help out putting in some other ones. I’ve gotten to be a half way decent hand at installing wood and laminate floors. So when a buddy called me up last week to ask my help installing the new floor at his place I told him sure. He did all the ripping up of the old floor and got the trim off the walls so all I had to do was show up and help lay the floor.

He asked me to show up at 8:00 and I joking asked him what was for breakfast. He asked what I wanted. I told him the usual (biscuits, gravy, scrambled eggs). He said his wife would be happy to fix it for me but they didn’t have the makings. So I brought my own sausage and farm fresh eggs.

Anyway I got my breakfast and he got his new dinning room and kitchen floor. It looks pretty nice and he should have his trim back up this weekend. His wife knows that I love pie. Mostly that’s it, I love pie. There is one pie that I love more than the others, pecan.

The problem with pecan pie is that I’ve found that only one kind of women in the world can fix it proper: the southern grandmother. For whatever reason there is a gene found in the best examples of southern womanhood that kicks in after they become grandparents that causes them to create the best pecan pie. This is a scientific fact.

My buddy’s wife was so grateful that we got her floor done and that it looked fantastic that she made me a special treat. (I’m sure he got his own special treat too). You guessed it pecan pie. It was awesome, it’s also half gone. Here’s the part you need to set down for and hold onto your hat. Not only is she under 45 years old and nowhere near being a grandmother. She isn’t from the south. (gasp) She’s originally from (brace yourself) Minnesota.

I don’t want to go making unfounded accusations about anybodies mama. But the pie don’t lie. There must be a redneck in the wood pile.


Gerald Ford RIP

Much in the news today about America’s unelected president. Take it easy now Bill, this isn’t a tirade about GWB.

Ford accepted a tough job at a tough time, then he got promoted into a even tougher one. I’m not big on the draft dodger pardon, I think they should have stayed in Canada. They made their choice, a fact I can respect, but they should have lived with those consequences and not been given a second chance to enjoy the benefits of living in a nation that they found repugnant enough to leave.

Other than that I can’t say Ford should be judged too harshly. He wasn’t a great leader, nor did he suck too badly, he merely kept the ship of state listing along and steered it through the Nixon fall out. Of course had he done a better job we might not have ended up with Carter….

New Blogger?

Is anyone using New Blogger yet?

How does it work? (Does it work?)

Do you like it?

Is it worth the effort to switch?

Curious minds want to know, but a lazy guy doesn’t want to rush into anything that would require a call to tech support.

A Great One Liner

Credit Roci for coming up with a one liner worth remembering:

“I am sure those stories will serve you well at the children’s table in Valhalla.”

I’m going to love using this one the next time a certain someone shows up to pistol league with a 9mm and talks about how its just as good as a 45.


Welcome to the Blogsphere

Our very own sultry voiced siren, Taylor has started her own blog. I for one hope she posts some audio entries so we can hear her sweet voice. It’s ok with me if she posts some pics too, she’s a looker boys. Don’t mind Jamie, I’m sure he’ll post there a couple hundred times a day. I never thought I’d see an Aussie have the hots so bad for anyone. Look for him to propose any day now. I think it’s true love and not just a cheap attempt to get his green card.

Stop by and wish her a Merry Christmas at Mind Over Blather.



Are you big on holiday traditions?

My family is on some and not so much on others. For instance, the wife’s side has a pretty decent Christmas Eve tradition. They go to one of the early services at the Lutheran church and then everyone goes out for pizza and beer afterwards in Frankenmuth. Only a bunch of hardheaded Germans would think of going to church and then invading Italy. Of course this isn’t the same as the old days; they only invade an Italian restaurant and pillage the supply of beer. It’s the symbolism that matters.

On my side of the family we enjoy food and the Christmas meal is a big part of the holiday. Tradition requires a whole prime rib roast be ordered, rubbed and allowed to age. (Farmer Tom, this roast is ALWAYS corn fed, hanging beef and well marbled; I can’t swear that its American beef but I hope it is) The side dishes are a big part too. We’ve experimented with having twice baked potatoes, but were pretty well settled on my mother’s rice pilaf. Apple salad, mixed veggies and shrimp cocktail round out the must haves, other dishes get rotated through the mix as the women folk determine necessary. There is always a special dessert of some sort. The real treat is the Christmas cookies of which there are more than a dozen verities; some years up to two dozen depending on how industrious the moms and grandmas are feeling.

Christmas Eve two significant things happen. Dinner is a depression era soup, known as “ground up soup”. Not so kindly referred to by me and my siblings as “gruel”. The soup is made by putting potatoes, carrots, onion, and salt pork through a food grinder and boiling the stuff in a pot of water. In the 30’s in northern Michigan my mother’s family lived on a not so prosperous farm. They had 14 kids and two adults. In order to feed everyone two methods of food preparation were employed. 1. Poaching, I don’t mean boiling either, my grandfather and uncles were normally about 2 minutes ahead of the game warden for most of their life. 2. Not wasting ANYTHING, this meant stretching every last bit of consumable food to the max. When my grandfather finished a bone, there was so little flavor left that the dog turned his nose up at it. Ground up soup is a way of remembering those times and not gorging ourselves before the Christmas feast.

The second significant thing with food is that a big bunch of those Christmas cookies get dished up onto lots of paper plates with holiday scenes on them. Then the plates get delivered to our friends and family. Afterwards tradition dictates that we sample the cookies and wash them down with my mother’s all time favorite beverage, Bigalow’s Fruit and Almond tea.

My friends I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year; may your traditions bring you joy as you remember years gone by, may your children keep them in remembrance of you and their youth, and may the Good Lord bring you happiness this season to you and all you love.

God bless us every one.

A Whining Review

As Water Boy can attest, I enjoy good wine. Generally I can pick pretty good ones too. I’m not a snob about it or picky. Should I ever have the pleasure of dinning in your home and you graciously serve me a glass I will accept it and toast you and yours with a glad hart.

Something horrible has happened in the world of red wine. For several years I’ve enjoyed the occasional glass of grape form the pinot noir family. In the US a handful of vineyards grew the stuff and a small batch of winemakers produced exceptional fare. Due to the fact that the stuff was virtually unheard of and “merlot” and “Cabernet Sauvignon” were all the rage, you could buy excellent vintages for just a few dollars.

Then the whole deal went right in the crapper. Pinot became popular, then it became trendy. Now it’s a crap shoot to get a decent bottle of the stuff for under $30. I used to be able to pick up excellent stuff for 10 bucks and never have to worry about the quality. There is such a high market demand now; everyone is making something they are calling Pinot and selling it in hopes of tricking the unsuspecting public into thinking you can pass grape cool aid through a radiator, sick it in a green bottle and sell it for $25. Perhaps I’m being much too kind and generous with my evaluation of this years biggest mistake purchase.

Turning Leaf Vineyards is a typical mass market producer. This I know, and knew before buying the bottle. What can I say? It was on sale for $14.99 and I assumed that the word “Reserve” on the bottle of 2005 Provincia Di Pava meant that in the tradition of Vineyards all over the freaking world that it was some of their better product.

Little did I know, “reserve” means; that even in America’s culture of mass produced junk and drive through “dinning”, that profit hungry corporate executives with no sense of shame, who eagerly look for opportunities to pimp out their own mothers and sisters to syphilitic johns just to make 50 cents, do in fact have some scruples and reservations about the stuff they put in a bottle and call wine.

If you’re a hard core drunk, living on skid row just waiting for the DT’s or liver failure to kill your sorry butt and someone offers you a swig from a bottle of Turning Leaf 2005 Reserve Pinot Noir, look em right in the eye and say “no thanks, I’ve got standards”.


Which Holiday Relative Are You?

Please circle the letter that best describes your response.

1. When dinner is served, what do you say?

A. Is the turkey done? How are the mashed potatoes? Could I make some more gravy?
B. I get first pick! I paid for that turkey.
. Who needs their wine topped off?
. I want to open presents first.
. Please pass the salad, and no, I'm not dating anybody.
. Why is everybody here? It's not my birthday, is it?
. Are you going to finish that? I'll be glad to finish that for you.

2. When opening gifts, what do you say?

A. I'm going to save this pretty wrapping paper.
B. I paid $57.95 for that and he's playing with the box!Play with the toy!!
C. I don't need another 12-step book.
D. This stinks! I wanted a pokeasurusmon game.
E. Oh, great. Another tablecloth. I can use this while eating take-out every night.
F. This is a wonderful hat. I can keep my governmentsecrets in here.
G. Woo Hoo! I love my new toy! I'm so excited.

3. What do you think when shopping for gifts?

A. I'm making good money now -- this year it's fabulousgifts for everyone.
B. Do I look like I'm made of money?
C. Vermouth for everyone, and jars of olives for stocking stuffers.
D. You mean I have to "buy" presents?
E. This sweater is a lovely shade of cobalt, but it needs to be more of a cerulean.
F. A banana for Peggy Sue. A hula-hoop for Betty, and some bobby socks for Jude.
G. I wish I were in the mall with them and not locked in this car by myself.

4. What is your holiday attire like?

A. A green dress, red blouse, and Christmas tree earrings.
B. The same thing I wear every holiday.
C. I always notice my shirt is on backwards halfway through dinner.
. I have to wear a clip-on bow tie and itchy wool pants.
. Something black that shows a little leg.
. My pajamas and a fez.
. Fur.

5. How do you decorate the house during the holidays?

A. You can never have too many wreaths, I always say.
B. It's time to string up the lights again?! Geez!
C. Airline-size liquor bottles strung together are abeautiful holiday decoration.
D. I string popcorn together so I can eat it afterChristmas.
E. Why decorate when I am never home?
F. Why would I want to decorate the "horse"?
G. I like to leave lots of homemade surprises behind the couch.

6. If you were a reindeer, what would your name be?

A. Cleaner.
B. Whiner.
C. Rudolph the RED NOSED reindeer.
D. Broken.
E. Vixen.
F. Burden.
G. Sniffer.

7. What is your favorite outdoor winter activity?

A. I love sleigh rides with the whole family.
B. Leave me alone. I'm watching football.
C. Frozen snow makes a great margarita mix.
D. I'm gonna peg people with snow balls.
E. Anatomically correct snowmen and lots of them.
F. I run through the sprinklers without any clothes on.
G. Making yellow snow is lots of fun.

If you circled "A" three or more times, you are "UberMother." Mom, sit down! The meal is perfect, the house is perfect, and the gifts are perfect. So knock back a few shots of eggnog and chill!

If you circled "B" three or more times, you are "TheIrritable Father." You put the "Bah" in "Bah humbug" and the "Grrr" in Grinch. Lighten up.

If you circled "C" three or more times, you are "The Tipsy Aunt." It's time to start drinking your eggnog straight, honey.

If you circled "D" three or more times, you are "The Whiny Grandchild." You're so spoiled. Stop complaining about getting underwear instead of toys. When I was your age, we had to make our own underwear out of leaves.

If you circled "E" three or more times, you are "The Career-Minded Daughter." For you, life is one big party. Just remember... tick tock tick tock.

If you circled "F" three or more times, you are "Grand Pappy." We've been talking and feel it's time you move intoa nice place where people can take care of you. No, put that down -- you don't need that to talk to the mother ship.

If you circled "G" three or more times, you are "The Family Dog." You're such a good boy... yes you are... yes you are...

If you circled "none" three or more times, you probably needto see a therapist.

Grandma Russell’s Recipe

Ok folks here it is, the traditional bourbon eggnog:

Bourbon Eggnog
1 bottle bourbon
1 quart milk
1 quart heavy cream
2 dozen eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
Nutmeg for garnish

Separate eggs and beat yolks until creamy. Whip sugar into yolks. Beat whites until they stand in peaks, adding 1/2 cup additional sugar, if desired. Beat yolks and bourbon together. Add whites. Beat cream. Add cream and milk. Nutmeg to taste, and garnish. Makes 10 servings.

This is an ok recipe, and what most of ya’ll probably have had with one variation or another like adding cinnamon or chocolate shavings or whatever.

Boiled Custard is something else all together.

1 gal whole milk (warm)
1 qt heavy cream or whipping cream (warm)
6 c sugar
8 tbsp flour
12 eggs

Mix flour and sugar set aside.
Beat eggs and strain through a sieve into milk and cream mixture into a double boiler. Bring milk almost to a boil, then add sugar and flour mixture very slowly stirring it in with a whip. Stir the mixture constantly until it begins to thicken then lower heat to a simmer. Cook on a low heat stirring constantly until the mixture is very thick. Remove from heat and sit mixture in a cool water bath until cool. Strain mixture back into a milk jug and cool before serving.

Add Russell’s Reserve to taste.
You can also add nutmeg and all that other stuff too if you want. Try it straight first. For a treat use only organic milk and cream.

I’m apparently some distant (by marriage to an aunt) shirt tail relation to Jimmy Russell, at least according to my cousin. No Nate I don’t know him, never met him and I can’t get you an autograph. However I might be able to work out something with Glen. Grandma Russell gave me the recipe when I was a kid, sans bourbon, becasue I liked it so much. Grandma’s from Kentucky can sure cook.


A Dilbert Moment

I applied to the company that I now work for over 9 months ago. They had listed the job I’m doing now on their web site as a direct hire position. Today I got this email:

From: The Big Oil Company Careers Site Administrator

Dear Mr. Ipsa,

Thank you for your interest in the position: Operator (Req ID: 00522 / Req#: 090606B) and the opportunity to review your qualification and accomplishments. However, we must inform you that this position has been filled. We will keep your resume on file and will contact you should your qualification match any future vacancies.

Thank you for contacting us and we wish you success in attaining your future goals.

The Big Oil Company Talent Acquisition Team

I’m debating sending them a reply.

Dear Big Oil Company Talent Acquisition Team,

I thank you for your interest in my application. I was aware you filled this job opening via a subcontractor. I am currently doing the job you advertised and have been for the last two months. Every time I hear your HR department gripe that they can’t find good people to hire into direct positions and they hate paying the consultants a premium for recruiting and training, I will remember this email and smile. I am willing to split the difference between the bill out rate you are paying for my services and my hourly pay rate with you. This will decrease your expense of having the job filled by 25% and increase my hourly pay rate by 50%. How about it?

This is what happens when Wally and Dogbert run the “Talent Acquisition Team”.


Was it the 25th of December?

Nate’s got a post up about this pressing question. If ya’ve been around for a Christmas or two it comes down to those who believe that December 25 was the actual day of Christ’s birth and those of us who don’t. I don’t but I also don’t see that it matters much. When ya’ll get to heaven you can ask, I’m sure God has it marked down some place. On to more pressing Christmas related subjects:

This is the time of year when we think back to the very first Christmas, when the Three Wise Men -- Gaspar, Balthazar, and Herb -- went to see the baby Jesus and, according to the Book of Matthew, "presented unto Him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh."

These are simple words, but if we analyze them carefully, we discover an important, yet often overlooked, theological fact: there is no mention of wrapping paper.

If there had been wrapping paper, Matthew would have said so: "And lo, the gifts were inside 600 square cubits of paper. And the paper was festooned with pictures of Frosty the Snowman. And Joseph was going to throweth it away, but Mary saideth unto him, she saideth, 'Holdeth it! That is nice paper! Saveth it for next year!' And Joseph did rolleth his eyeballs. And the baby Jesus was more interested in the paper than the frankincense."

But these words do not appear in the Bible, which means that the very first Christmas gifts were NOT wrapped. This is because the people giving those gifts had two important characteristics:

1. They were wise.
2. They were men.

Men are not big gift wrappers. Men do not understand the point of putting paper on a gift just so somebody else can tear it off. This is not just my opinion, this is a scientific fact based on a statistical survey of two guys I know. One is Rob, who said the only time he ever wraps a gift is "if it's such a poor gift that I don't want to be there when the person opens it." The other is Gene, who told me he does wrap gifts, but as a matter of principle never takes more than 15 seconds per gift. "No one ever had to wonder which presents daddy wrapped at Christmas," Gene said. "They were the ones that looked like enormous spitballs."

I also wrap gifts, but because of some defect in my motor skills, I can never completely wrap them. I can take a gift the size of a deck of cards and put it the exact center of a piece of wrapping paper the size of a regulation volleyball court, but when I am done folding and taping, you can still see a sector of the gift peeking out. (Sometimes I camouflage this sector with a marking pen.) If I had been an ancient Egyptian in the field of mummies, the lower half of the Pharaoh's body would be covered only by Scotch tape.

On the other hand, if you give my wife a 12-inch square of wrapping paper, she can wrap a C-130 cargo plane. My wife, like many women, actually likes wrapping things. If she gives you a gift that requires batteries, she wraps the batteries separately, which to me is very close to being a symptom of mental illness. If it were possible, my wife would wrap each individual volt.

My point is that gift-wrapping is one of those skills like having babies that come more naturally to women than to men. That is why today I am presenting:

Gift Wrapping Tips for Men:

* Whenever possible, buy gifts that are already wrapped. If, when the recipient opens the gift, neither one of you recognizes it, you can claim that it's myrrh.

* The editors of Woman's Day magazine recently ran an item on how to make your own wrapping paper by printing a design on it with an apple sliced in half horizontally and dipped in a mixture of food coloring and liquid starch. They must be smoking crack. If you're giving a hard-to-wrap gift, skip the wrapping paper! Just put it inside a bag and stick one of those little adhesive bows on it. This creates a festive visual effect that is sure to delight the lucky recipient on Christmas morning:

YOUR WIFE: Why is there a Hefty trash bag under the tree?
YOU: It's a gift! See? It has a bow!
YOUR WIFE (peering into the trash bag): It's a leaf blower.
YOU: Gas-powered! Five horsepower!
YOUR WIFE: I want a divorce.
YOU: I also got you some myrrh.

In conclusion, remember that the important thing is not what you give, or how you wrap it. The important thing, during this very special time of year, is that you save the receipt.

This piece shamelessly stolen from Dave Berry and reproduced here for your amusement.


In Threes

“Where's Res?”

Fucken hell Res”, indeed.

Every time I looked at the arrangement of “baby’s breath” I wondered if I could work a swap with God, my breath for Cadee’s.

This is what it means to be a Christian, this is what the church looks like at its best. The ladies from over two dozen Detroit area churches worked out a schedule to help my sister out for the next several months.

My brother in law and sis picked the songs they wanted for the funeral, I only remember the last part of the last one.

“God, you give and take away”
“you give and take away”
“you give and take away”
“you give and take away”

“Yet I will teach my heart to say…”
“Blessed be the name”
“Blessed be the name”
“Blessed be the name of the Lord”

They say bad things come in threes. Last Monday I buried my niece, on Saturday we buried a friends mother, today another friend buried his father.

I haven’t been posting. I’ve been contemplating. I didn’t want to burden my friends (which I consider ya’ll) with long grief filled musings on death and other cheery topics when you should be preparing for Christmas and enjoying your families and blessings.


4,300 a Year

I was told that’s the number of babies that die of SIDS each year in the US. It’s not big number. Pretty good odds that it’ll never happen to your kid or anyone you know. It’s a small number, if you happen to think about it, it’s a slightly sad number. Not much of a headline grabber, if you saw it in a newspaper you’d move on to more interesting topics.

At least I would. It’s not pleasant to think about and it’s not big enough to get overly concerned over. A sad little number in a world filled with big tragic numbers.

Six days after my son was born, my sister had her second child, a girl, named Cadee. Last night Cadee got her bath, a clean diaper and ate, she went to sleep like a good girl. She didn’t wake up.

The funeral is Monday in Trenton MI. I will be on a plane first thing in the morning. There are a number of good Christian folks who stop by here, if you would, please say a prayer for my sis, her husband and their little boy.