Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Missus gets even sillier!

The Missus just can't resist cute cuddly animals!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Our Thanksgiving was a little too exciting

So the Missus had been cooking since 11 a.m. for the big dinner at 5.  The Missus and I plus Young Son, Young Daughter, and six dogs took the traditional Thanksgiving day walk along desolation highway, aka the San Fransquito canyon abandoned road, a nice three mile walk in balmy temperatures and sunny skies.  We got home to find Older Son already there watching football.  As the day move along, I cut and split some wood to get into the whole Thanksgiving atmosphere while the turkey cooked on.  As the time got closer to dinner time Young Daughter commented that the kitchen seemed to be getting a bit smoky.  The Missus thought some turkey juice might have spilled into the oven.  A couple minutes later the smoke alarm went off and I went to the kitchen to see what was going on.  Black smoke was pouring from the stove and the kitchen and family room was rapidly filling with smoke.  I opened the oven (the Missus had already removed the turkey) and saw that it was on fire!  Grease from the turkey had pooled in the bottom of the oven and ignited!  I closed the door, turned off the oven and looked again.  Still burning, but now even more so!  I grabbed the fire extinguisher (always have one in the kitchen!) and put the fire out and closed the door.  It came back to light again!  Three times I blasted it and then used another extinguisher from another room before it was out. I was just about ready to call the fire department.  I had shut off the gas to the stove at the wall and pulled the stove away from the wall to prevent it from charring the cabinets and the wall.  It didn't get that bad fortunately.

Young son ran to get fans from the shed to blow smoke out of the house and the Missus hustled the food away from the smoke and fire extinguisher powder that went everywhere.

It was a somber meal after that.  I was shaken thinking how close it came to a real disaster.  Fortunately all that was lost were the rolls and stuffing balls that were in the stove when it went up in flames and of course maybe the stove itself.  I spent the rest of the evening cleaning up the mess.  Tomorrow the Missus will call a repairman to examine the stove to see if it was damaged by the fire.  I took it apart and all looks ok but who knows what may have been damaged.

lesson to all:   watch out for grease fires and keep fire extinguishers handy!

Sight Seeing in Indianapolis part 2 - The Colonel Eli LillyCivil War Museum

As I mentioned in the post about President Harrison's house, I was in Indianapolis on business.  Just down the street from the hotel we were staying in I spied an interesting obelisk.  Even though the temperature was in the low 40s and I was dressed for high 50s myself and another SoCal'r walked a couple blocks to the monument.  It turned out to be the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum with an observation platform at the top and a civil war museum in the basement.  We got there just before closing time.  My coworker went up for the view and I went down for the museum.  Unfortunately shortly after I got to the museum it closed and the lady tossed me out.  My coworker said that the view from up top was great!
The statues on the face of the memorial show not only civil war servicemen but also those from other wars.  Highly recommended for history buffs!
The memorial
Very realistic depiction of the Indiana fighting men
Another side of the memorial
The front of the memorial
Very accurate rendition of the soldier with a Spencer carbine, a weapon not often seen in a war memorial


Sight seeing in Indianapolis Part 1 - President Benjamin Harrison's home

So the Missus and I have visited 3 and 4 presidential museums (me: Nixon, Ford, Reagan) (her: Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Reagan) and we've decided that we'd like to visit every presidential museum that exists, even Bill Clinton's.  Perhaps when we retire we'll set off across the country going to state to state visiting each one.
Recently I found myself in Indianapolis on business with some co-workers.  We had a couple hours before we needed to be to our destination and when one of them saw that we were going to pass near to the home of Benjamin Harrison I asked if they would mind if we stopped to see it, they didn't mind so we stopped!
Unfortunately for me I didn't have a real camera with me, just the silly little camera in my city issued Blackberry phone so it had to suffice.  When we go to the house the sign indicated that the tour had just left and the next one wouldn't start for half an hour.  That didn't deter one of the people in my group who boldly knocked on the door.  A very nice elderly lady opened the door and invited us in and we were on our own private tour!
I was amazed at how accessible everything was in the house.  Very little was roped off or separated from the visitors.   Much in the house is original to the Harrison family.  After the former president passed away his second wife also moved out and the house served as a boarding house and then part of a girl's college.  Fortunately the furnishings and accessories were stored and preserved and placed back in the house when it was turned into the presidential museum.  I highly recommend a visit to President Benjamin Harrison's house!
Outside the house
Also outside the house
Here it is!  A big place for its time and expensive too.  Solidly built with 12' ceilings and floors that don't squeak or groan as they are walked on.
A decoration from China in the parlor
The parlor.  The screen in front of the fireplace was to diffuse the heat from the fire and prevent the beeswax makeup on the women in the room from melting!
Original typewriters in the president's office
The dining room
President Harrison's china
President T. Roosevelt's china
President Lincoln's china.  Mrs Harrison discovered many china pieces from previous administrations at the White House and started a collection of the presidential china to preserve them for future generations
A letter from 12 year old Helen Keller to President Harrison
The nursery for his daughter from his second wife. This was the dressing room for his first daughter with his first wife
The president's bedroom
The Missus is a quilter of renown so I took pictures of many of the quilts in the house.  This one has faint signatures of civil war veterans on it
The quilt on the president's bed
The desk of Benjamin Harrison when he was an attorney prior to becoming President
The kitchen stove in the kitchen (of course); lots of light in here for taking pictures with my non camera
The pie safe for storing pies and cakes away from the hordes of flies that would be in the kitchen in the summer.  Yuck!  The nice lady was our docent tour guide
The Missus likes to do extreme ironing so I got a picture of the household ironing board
The family carriage and sleigh in the carriage house

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Citizen Grouch Recommends: 3 degrees of James Bond

So last weekend on my much anticipated four day holiday I got stinkin' sick.  I was so sick I missed the annual out to dinner for Veteran's day with the family on Sunday.  But on Monday I honored an earlier promise and accompanied the Missus, Young Daughter, and Young Son to see the latest James Bond flick "Skyfall"

It was a good movie filled with action, scenic sights in the UK, Istanbul, and Albania (all very dangerous places it appears!) Bond babes, not too many gadgets, a casino (seems to be a required locale in many Bond movies)  trains, guns, explosions, chases over the rooftops of Istanbul, the moors of Scotland, and the Bond backstory.  It was a lot of fun but due to my heavy cold and congestion I had to time my nose blowing and phlegmatic coughing for the noisy action scenes and in some cases there was way too much time between those occurrences  for my personal comfort!   Three questions for those who've seen the movie:

1. How deep does the water have to be to survive a drop of that height for James?
2. How long would it take the henchmen to break every window in every high rise on the island if they broke ten windows a day in their boredom while waiting for something to happen?
3. Where did the game keeper live if the only buildings around where the manor, the outbuilding, and the chapel?

Any movie that features a Land Rover defender in a high speed chase and the use of a classic English double rifle in at least .40 caliber with ejectors (the ejected cases looked like cigar holders) is all right in my book.

This Saturday Young Daughter and I were supposed to have some Father-Daughter time in the great outdoors but much to our surprise it rained so we wimped out and went to see a movie.  The movie was "Taken 2" and wouldn't you know it, there was only a couple degrees of separation from it and "Skyfall"!

In "Taken" Liam Neeson is a retired government operative with a remarried ex-wife and willful teen age daughter.  The daughter takes a vacation to Paris with friends and is kidnapped along with other teen girls by Albanian sex trade thugs.  The dad rushes to Paris and rescues the them all with a high body count along the way.  "Taken 2"  has the same cast.  the ex-wife is on the outs with husband #2 and Liam invites her and the daughter to Istanbul (ding!) where he is wrapping up a protection gig for some wealthy clients.  Little does he know that the father of one of the dead thugs has vowed eternal revenge on Liam and takes the opportunity to kidnap the wife (Framke Janssen who played Xenia Onatopp in the James Bond flick "Goldeneye") (ding, ding!) and Liam.   It is up to the daughter now to help rescue both.  It involved gun play, grenades, stolen taxis, chases on the roofs of Istanbul (ding, ding, ding!) and very satisfying revenge.  Old Liam is pretty fit for a guy of his age and there is your three degrees of separation from "Skyfall"

Last night the Grouches rented an indie movie that I had read about but our megaplex refused to show, instead showing the same three movies on 22 screens.

 "Safety Not Guaranteed" is about three people who work at one of those weekly magazines dedicated to a city (Seattle)  that is filled with ads and some articles that usually get thrown on your driveway whether you want it or not.  Desperate for a story a reporter proposes tracking down the person who placed an ad in the personals seeking people to time travel with him.  "Safety not guaranteed" it says in the ad.  The reporter and two interns travel to a beach community in Washington to seek out the person in the ad and see just what kind of a loon he is.  The reporter is a narcissist who yearns for his younger days and is looking for his teen age sweetheart who is in the town.  The female intern is a quiet wallflower whose mother died and whose death has scarred the girl.  the male intern is an Asian Indian brainiac nerd who is building his resume by working at the magazine but has never kissed a girl or had any fun it appears.  They find the would be time traveler and he and the girl intern connect.  The reporter finds his teen sweetheart.  Do they connect?  Does the nerd become a wild and crazy guy?  Is there time travel?  And what is the connection to James Bond?  I'll answer the last question.  This movie has gun play (sort of)  a sports car (well, it is a rusty 20 year old 240Z) a car chase (15 miles an hour) and two possible government agents.  I had a lot of fun with the movie and the budding relationship between the girl and the time traveler was nice to watch.  The scenery was great and the pace slow and measured.  I loved the ending.  Hopefully you will love the movie.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Veteran's Day 2012 part 2

How could I forget to thank sister in law Kathleen, 25 year veteran of the Air Force for her service the nation?  Sorry Kathleen!!  And brother Ed, Air Force vetern who served in the Vietnam era.  What was I thinking??!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day 2012

I had hoped to make a stirring tribute to veterans everywhere and particularly for the Grouch clan but unfortunately for me I got sick and have just started to recover.  So I will let it go with this:

Thank you great uncle Thomas who served in the war to preserve the union, was captured at Gettysburg and paroled at Petersberg.

Thank you great uncle Paul, uncle Howard, and Grandfather Edward who served in the war to end all wars

Thank you Dad who served in the war to defeat fascism and literally save the world

Thank you father in law Rege who served from the cold war to Desert Storm

Thank you brother in law Bill who served as a hot pilot from Vietnam to Kosovo

Thank you sister in law Helen who also served in Desert Storm

Thank you brothers in law Rege and Christopher, sisters in law Anne, Elizabeth, Monica, and Amy who served during the cold war that sometime became hot

Thank you nephew Michael who became an All American and is fighting as one of America's legionnaires in Iraq and Afghanistan

Thank you Older Son who put his life on hold and deployed three times, lastly in a thankless mission to Iraq

Thank you Young Daughter who serves everyday with the Air National Guard helping to keep America safe.

Thank you Missus for following me to Germany as the wife of a new 2LT.  Little did you know what you were getting yourself into!  Thank you for being strong when Older Son was in Iraq.  Thank you for all the uniforms washed, insignia sewed on and removed and others sewn on.  Thanks for pulling my boots off of my aching feet when I staggered home late in the evening from my company.  Thanks for backing me when I deployed to Japan and you got to stay home with three kids and a 2 year old.  Thanks for everything.

Thank you veterans everywhere:  the cooks and bakers, typists and mechanics, infantrymen and tankers, aviators and ground crew, communicators and logisticians, sailors and Coasties,   There are no unimportant jobs in the military. Thanks to those who served in peacetime because it was their efforts who made sure the peace held.  Thanks to those who served in wartime, there is no greater sacrifice than to be prepared to give your life for freedom for our country.

Thank you one and all.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sight Seeing in Seattle part 8 - Pike Place Market

Anyone who visits Seattle must visit Pike Place and the shops along the main street.  It is a busy multi level enclosed mall-type area before indoor shopping malls were thought of in that way.  We continued to have beautiful weather during this part of our visit. Everyone we met on our trip were friendly and nice but a warning:  watch out for bicyclists in the downtown area!   Twice I was almost run down by cyclists making right turns on red without stopping or even slowing.  Once the Missus had to yank me back by the arm to avoid a speeding cyclist.  The Seattalites are very proud of the number of cyclists in the city but I feel that the cyclists could use some lessons in the traffic laws and courtesy to pedestrians.
Here are some scenes of the Pike Place experience:

Cruise ships dock nearby and we caught this view of a ship setting out on its cruise.
Beautiful flowers were everywhere!
I have no idea what was with the pigs but there were lots on display.  The day were were visiting a street fair was being set up and pigs were being wheeled in for display.
The pig brigade!
Selling and throwing fish is a big deal here. Like the changing of the guard at Buckingham palace, folks line up early to see the fishmongers toss the fish around.  It is apparently quite the show but we missed it.
The very first Starbucks ever!  They started off selling coffee beans only, then switched to the finished product when they realized a foolish coffee drinker and his/her money are easily parted.  More money in the liquid than in the beans!

Animal Farm 2012

The morning after the election on the work train:  four folks, looking decidedly middle-class discussing the election results.  Three are Obama/democrat supporters  scolding the Romney supporter for being part of the stingy and greedy.  "The rich have more than they are entitled to.  They have a duty to give some of it to us" said the man while the two women nodded in agreement.  The Romneyite was flabbergasted and wasn't able to reply.  A duty to give to these people? So they can buy more stuff at the expense of someone who earned the means through work and investment and wasn't given it?   Is that where we are headed now?  How much longer until we have our own version of Animal Farm?

I turned on my IPod and closed my eyes.  I didn't want to hear any more.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Citizen Grouch Recommends: Wreck-it Ralph

Once again due to my work  I received an invitation to visit the Disney studios and see a movie in their wonderful theater.  This time it was 'Wreck-it Ralph' in 3D.  Last Saturday morning, the Missus, Young Son and I traveled to the studios to view their latest production.  The Disney people are very nice and gave Wreck-it Ralph toys to the kids attending.  Unfortunately Young Son was deemed too old at 19 to get a toy.  Being a good sport he didn't throw a temper tantrum.

The Missus and I weren't expecting much beyond a free movie before the show.  It opened with a lovely short subject, a hand drawn feature called 'Paper Man' about an office drone in a 40s looking city who has a chance encounter with a young and sweet girl on the street car and how he searches to see her again.

Next came the main feature which was just great!   The music was catchy and lively, the storyline was funny with various video game characters making cameo appearances, there was the plucky girl who only wanted to be a race car driver, the anti-hero who just wanted to be accepted for what he was, and the female butt-kicking soldier who didn't have the best wedding day and was traumatized by it to say the least. 

We had a great time watching the show and we all left with a tear in our eyes, a smile on our face, and the theme to the Sugar Rush game echoing in our heads.

Four Stars!

Bank Robbery!

For the far-flung Grouch family a bit of breaking news:  The local BoA down the street from Grouch estates was robbed this morning!   I heard about the pursuit on the radio as I was driving to the range this morning.

This is an old branch that was a Security Pacific bank before being bought out by BoA.  It is a nice suburban bank with no Plexiglas separating the tellers from the customers.  Wonder how long that will last?

I so want out of California.

Read about it here:

This is why you own a firearm:

Owning a firearm isn't about hunting, or target shooting, or collecting, although all of those are legitimate reasons to own a firearm.  Owning a firearm and being trained to use it responsibly, effectively, and safely in the protection of yourself, your family, and your community is what it is about.
Anti-firearm zealots tell us that the government protects us from those who will do us harm.  But as shown during hurricanes Andrew, Katrina and now with hurricane Sandy the government isn't around to protect us and those who will do us harm either by stealing the means to survive adverse conditions from the unprotected or by taking lives directly; they are on the prowl sensing opportunities. 
The residents of the devastated area are forced back on their own resources to maintain and protect live and property.   Those with foresight who obtained a firearm and trained with it are now able to protect themselves and their neighbors.
Don't be prey for the wolves in the night if a disaster happens in your community.  The Federal government tells us that we should be prepared to be completely on our own for at least 48 hours after a disaster. 
Choose not to be a victim for those who sense easy pickings.
Photo by Reuters
Green Bay Gazette

Monday, November 5, 2012

Marathon Man 2012

Older Son decided that 2012 was the year that we would compete in a marathon.  He had been running 5 miles or so on a fairly regular basis but once we was committed to the marathon he kicked up his training and started knocking out 10 milers with relative ease.  He signed up for the Santa Clarita marathon and this past weekend he set off on marathon #1 for him!
Older Son at the 10 mile mark.  Looking good, keeping a great pace, and in great spirits!
Headed to the finish line - still looking good and the end was very near. 
Almost there!  The child in the picture was only running a mile so don't think OS is about to be lapped by a 10 year old!
Made it!  The lady in the picture was very happy to be seen next to OS!
Very proud of both my boys!  Young Son is having thoughts of training with his brother and entering as a team next year.


Halloween time!

The Missus and Young Son finished up their tour of duty at the Fright Fest at our local amusement park last month.  The Missus loves dressing up for Halloween and being part of the Fright Fest made the whole month of October even better for her.  Here are some last pictures of her crew and some others too!
Her fright maze won 'scariest maze'  and the ghouls brandishing the trophy shows why that was!
Young Son in his role as the headless man that scared the bejeebiz out of the customers when he would suddenly lunge at them.
The Missus is a sucker for cute monsters even if they want to rip out her throat!
The more sedate group at the fright zone.
Here are the ghouls again!
No ghouls here but who is the Queen of Hearts?
Did I hear her say 'off with his head'?  Gulp!
Young Son's MLP themed Halloween pumpkin.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Shooting visitor

As you may know firearms and everything connected is one of my long-time hobbies.  Firearms enthusiasts live all around the world and via the Internet I had the opportunity to host a very nice fellow from the UK last weekend at my local range.  We met the night before and dragged all of the boomsticks out of their cubbyholes.  His amazed comment was that I owned more firearms than some gun shops in the UK.  And here I thought that I had more firearms than the Bolivian army but I guess since I've sold some recently I've dropped in the ranking of quantity held.
My visitor picked the firearms from my collection that appealed to him and we were off to the range on Saturday!  We met three friends of mine and we proceeded to send massive quantities of copper and lead downrange and shot down numerous orange flying disks with our shotguns.  Needless to say everyone had a fantastic time!
My Brit friend and the Browning 1919A4.  An easy way to go through a lot of ammo very quickly!
At the shotgun range.  Mr Brit is an amazing shotgunner and no clay bird was safe from him.  He professed to have only shot clays once before.  Good thing we didn't have any money riding on who hit the most!
Some of the long arms personally selected by the visitor.  He absolutely loved the AR15, M1 rifle, and M1A.