Monday, May 28, 2007

The Comfort Zone List

Everyone seems to be into lists on the blog lately. I know nothing about "tags", but I ask you to list 5 comfort zones as an answer to this post.
1. My Home-I own it, have lived it for 25+ yrs. I say what I want , do what I want, because it's mine.
2. My career- I have worked in Specialty Metals for over 30 yrs. I meet very few people who know more about this subject than me, and more than a few who have heard I know my stuff!
3. The Northeast , Grand Rapids, MI- My kids represented the 4th generation to live in this part of town, and I know the merchants, clubs, find things without a map, and know alot of people here. Rare day I don't run into someone I went to school with, bowled with, etc.
4. Western Michigan- After 30+years on the road, I know where the best meat markets, bars, restaurants, etc. all located. Fun when you want a day trip!.
5. Earth- What a neat place to live! I have always felt a bond with people from wherever, if we just get a chance to communicate.
I know this is a little heavier than usual, but think- and post your answers, please!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Asparagus- Beware Of The "Free" Variety.....

A friend gave me what looked to be a huge bag of asparagus. He asked me to do something with it other than clean, boil, and bag it, as in- what else can be done? I told him, no problem (as we all know by now, I KNOW EVERYTHING!). Yeah, right! When opened, the bag revealed a mix of undersize/avg, young/old, pretty much wild asparagus. Great. Now that I've shot my big mouth off, what to do with a bag of glorified weeds? First separated the decent sized, from the small. Next, separated the rubbery/too dark green/from the reasonably OK stuff. I then took the good sized, trimmed it,steamed it shortly, laid a strip of Pepper Jack cheese along it, and wrapped it in a good quality ham sliced thinly. Reheated in a Micro until cheese melts, will make a nice appetizer. Next I took the small stuff, steamed until dead, blended(on Puree) with chix broth,cream O chix soup, nutmeg,Mrs Dash, garlic(while I was sauteing chopped onions,and celery) . Took the whole works up to simmer, then added cream cheese, milk, and a decent German sausage(pieces). When melded together-it wasn't bad!
I'm so proud I can take free asparagus, add 15 bucks and 4 hrs labor to it , give it back to a friend -just to preserve the legend of Buffalo Dick!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Gasoline Rant-It's Been Coming...

Last night driving home, the posted gas price for unleaded reg was $3.68 a gal. This is somewhere in the range of $1.40 a gal. higher than about 5 months ago, or 50%+ increase. America runs on gas. When it's cheap we go places and spend that money on other things-strengthening our economy. When it's high, we don't-sending retail,restaurants,tourism,etc. into the crapper. In my career I have lost a job because of climbing oil prices (1st oil shortage 1973) Our co. built roof top air conditioners for Winnebago, and when gas doubled no one was buying RVs! I remember gas rationing-10 gal. every other day, based on your license plate number(about 1978). Since then it has ebbed and flowed like the tide, always ending higher.
Throughout this trend we have talked about electric cars, smaller cars, alternative energy sources, mass transit improvements, etc. The second gas goes down, it's back to the SUVs, trucks, and vans(which represent more than half the vehicles produced by domestic car companies!).
We need a firm direction. We need to stabilize fuel pricing(higher or lower!) to avoid swings in major markets. The profits the oil companies are taking is obscene. Their lobby groups have no limits. If we ever get any oil from the Iraq fiasco, it will not be passed along to the American taxpayer/consumer. It will go to oil companies and or Iraq. I call Bullsh*t on the politicans, oil companies, and anyone else that isn't doing something about the disappearing middle class in America!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Personal Day Monday...

I decided when I saw a flat tire on my company car last night, that I would take today off. With the wife gone this past week end, less got done than normal. Saturday was a long day at a chili cook off(I took 4th, but my usual pardner took 1st!) . Our friends that have been winning so much took 2nd so we had to all go back to the home bar and brag/explain/reason out the day! That got late, so Sunday was layback. Today I've got to fix a tire, grocery shop, haircut, do the paperwork I'm always talking about, and 10:30pm or so pick up my wife at the train station. For reference- You can drive from Grand Rapids MI to Kansas City MO faster than a train! However, with gas prices climbing it is slightly cheaper by train! Air fare and driving are almost a wash now(for that trip)! Somebody gave me a big ass bag of aspargus to turn into something different-but I don't know what! That is one veggie served best lightly steamed, with a little salt,pepper and butter(I think!). Well, I'd best get to it!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Unusual Weekend For Me!

MY WIFE IS LEAVING ME! Well, for the weekend, at least. She's traveling by train(her choice!) to Kansas City to visit our eldest son and his new cat. Buf Dick Jr. was concerned about his mom (her job loss deal) and couldn't make it back to MI for Moms' Day(didn't want to leave the damn cat!) so they came up with this idea to ship her out to there. Good therapy I think-she misses him, loves cats, and cares for our sons more than me (completely Normal Mom). I have a minor Chili Cook-off to go to, and a ton of paperwork to do-so she's pretty sure I can manage to keep my ass out of trouble for a few days. 10 bucks says she will have our youngest still living in town checking to make sure the old man ain't in jail or worse! Remember Glen Frys' song "Party Town"? Hells Bells! I do!!!!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mothers' Day Is Really A Whole Week End!

As mentioned before, my wife is not working(let go 1 week ago) right now. Everything is fine, but I guess I'm trying to be a little more attentive on the mood thing. So, Friday night was with friends at the club, Saturday we went north to a casino(she wasn't lucky like I hoped, but my winnings offset the losses!). Sunday(Moms' Day) I fixed an unusual but really good treat-about 4lbs of King crab legs ! Alot of people in the Midwest will eat crab at the drop of a hat, but seldom have it except in a restaurant. Most of them don't even know the frozen ones from Alaska or Russia are already cooked when they hit the store! Because of this ignorance, most boil them until the meat is tasteless and the shells are so soft you could probably eat them. You can literally Microwave them until warm and they would be better. Anyway, I thawed them and because of the size of these bad boys about all they would fit in was my Nesco roaster! Steamed briefly on a rack over about 1/2" of water, they came out perfect. I know how to "draw" butter,but choose not to-I think you lose butter flavor. The only way to eat a messy meal like this is to have it with close friends or immediate family! My youngest came over with roses for Mom and we all ate like savages! The side dish was a rice casserole which I wouldn't make again(just a simple rice pilaf next time!) and dessert was a simple,but rich chocolate brownie. Today, she will continue Mothers' Day Weekend with a road trip to Birch Run-a shopping day with a girlfriend. Me- The Monday grind at work....

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sometimes I Have A Weird Way Of Making A Living

When I first started in sales, I would get in my car with a customer list and go make sales calls. As the years progressed, technology gave us many more tools to use- cell phones, computers, and pagers. On the front end of my career, customer entertainment was, lunches, dinners , technical dinners with speakers, etc. and golf. Now,the business groups have lost so many members, people don't go to the dinner meetings, putting together a 4some for golf is almost impossible(someone will cancel 'cause of business) and because there is more"team" building in industry along with people being so busy they won't go out to lunch-we bring lunch to them as a group. Earlier this week I had to meet a group from one of my customers and buy drinks and appetizers after work. During work, they don't even get a long enough lunch break to bring in food! Then yesterday, I lugged pop, munchies, and cookies, had a pizza place deliver 14 pizzas to another good customer. I don't mind being nice to good customers, but life sure used to be alot simpler!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Annual Eat Free At The Club Night....

Last night, we had our once a year induction of new members. We also award "gold cards" to members that have hit 25yrs with the club on this night, so it's our biggest turnout of the year(approx 120) for a business meeting. A buddy of mine and I started a tradition about 8yrs ago, where we would put out free food for after the meeting. "Free" is not a word to be used lightly around retirees and guys who worked all day, as they will eat like it's their last meal on Earth. When we started this, the board approved up to $120.00 for expenditures. I boasted I could feed every guy that was there for $1.00 a piece. And we did, for a least 5 years! Now prices are up, expectations are higher, so we now spend about $1.30each! It really is amazing how many people you can feed for very little(if you have to!). Most who read this blog have figured out I spend a hell of alot more than that in my own life! We served meatballs in a Merlot based herb brown gravy, ham & cheese on Kaiser rolls(with lettuce,tomatoes,onions,mustard,catsup,mayo, and pickles for condiments) potato salad, deviled eggs, olives,dill pickle spears, and potato chips. Plain, but good food on a budget! And brother, did it all get gone! Couple of stray olives rollin' around on the floor, but that was about it.....

Saturday, May 05, 2007

My 100th Post- Hard To Believe!

When I created a blog about a year ago, it was done primarily to be able to occasionally communicate with my son who lives in Kansas City, MO. In order to post on his blog, I had to have one too. So with limited computer skills, and definitely rusty writing skills I set one up and found something new and interesting-blogging with all you out there! I have not learned to post pictures yet- but I will! I certainly enjoy the postings that have visuals to go along with some pretty good writing.
Last night I took my wife(was her last day at her now ex- employer!) down to a private social club I have mentioned we are fairly active in. It was good therapy for her, as she had a few rum & cokes and talked to numerous friends about her change in status. It is good to have friends always, but in times of bad luck or change they can be a real asset. We stayed 2hrs past our usual departure time(place is only 7 minutes from our house) and slept in a little bit later than normal. Tuesday a friend and myself will buy, schepp, and cook for about 120 guys down at the club. It's an annual thing he and I do, so gotta come up with a menu today! Always Deviled eggs, meatballs- but what else......

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Economy In Michigan Continues Its' Downward Spiral..

Do you know the difference between a Recession and a Depression? A recession is where your neighbor loses their job. A depression is when you lose yours....
My wife came home yesterday, and informed me her company was letting 10-20 people go-and she was one of them. It was not a performance issue, they simply had to cut staff. She will recieve a severance package, her vacation pay, and unemployment(Uncontested). We are fine with this, as we are not head over heels in debt, but it illustrates the state of the economy in Mich. I am tired of watching good people who really do need a job in West Michigan lose their jobs to inexpensive labor driven industries overseas- primarily China.
My wife is one of those individuals that works more for her self- worth than the money, and I know in the next few weeks a depression will hit her that we all will feel. With her work experience I know she will find another job about as fast as she will want to, but it is still a sucky feeling to be out of work and not have it been by your choice.