Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year, and all that.

The passing of the old into a new begins tonight, just like it always does… around midnight.

I have glad rags in the closet with ultra shiny corfam shoes (Just like the big boys in the Service wear!) and a funny looking fluffy shirt that goes with my tux. In fact, I have two tuxedo suits but one of them has shrunk in the closet. I blame the regimen of hoppy barley pops for my clothing shrinkage, really.

Many people feel exhilaration and excitement when celebrating the New Year. I feel more of acceleration towards an ominous end. I'm a glass half empty sort of guy, (sorry!) it's just how it goes. In fact, I don't really feel anything about this day other than having to remember to write 2014 on my checks instead of say, 2012.

One thing I have been catching up on this past month has been reading. First, I read the latest Jack London Bio written by a Professor Earle Labor. Very appropriate author name considering London's strong socialist lean, in those days.

I received this great biography as a birthday present. I could not put this one down and I enjoyed every page. Earle Labor clearly knows his subject from many years of study and friendship with surviving London relatives.

Next, I re-read a Heinlein classic, "Door into Summer". The story is about a jilted man and his cat as they travel through time. The first time I read this great story was while living in Coronado in a small house with a siamese kitty named DC. The story reminded me of how much I still miss the DC Cat.

DC feared nothing. This is her in 1995 meeting our Akita, Kuma.

On a roll with book reading, I went to the local used book shop and grabbed up a pile to keep me going. The next (and current) book is James Hornfischer's tome on the campaign for Guadalcanal in 1942, "Neptunes Inferno". 

Usually, the story of Guadalcanal is mostly told from the standpoint of the Marine Corps and the tough struggle to beat down the Japanese defenses of that bit of island. The real story of the Campaign is much larger than one island in the Solomon's and the fighting that took place in the waters off of those islands was quite bloody, indeed. Three Sailors lost their lives to every Infantry Marine killed on Guadalcanal. I am still in the middle of the 514 pages. James Hornfischer does not disappoint, his deep research and care about the subject matter really shows us all the pain and sacrifice that we all should remember even today. Another book related to Neptune's Inferno would be the classic Hornfischer story, "Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors".

Next up will be a science fiction novel by Philip K. Dick, I don't remember the title but I'm sure it will be a fun read.

My Christmas present this year is the second edition of the newest Mark Twain Autobiography, published (as required by the Clemons Will) a century after Samuel Clemons' passing. It's a large book so I will read it in the next couple of weeks.

Tonight's Wine Dinner is at the Club, dressed in our finest, we will dine like Romans. I doubt I will be able to stay up for the Midnight celebrations, we will probably be ensconced on the Barco, snug like cats in our bunks.

I hope all of you out there have the best New Year. Good luck and better health for you all!

Friday, December 20, 2013

A nothing to note week.

Sorry for hiding out, again. Have been lying low and out of sight for the most part, not really participating with society. I cannot seem to connect with the outside world and would rather hang out with the kittehs and read old books. I have been looking at boat pron, especially sailboats.

The last thing I need is a sailboat. Maybe I should take the Barco out tomorrow and anchor somewhere, hmm?

Winter Solstice is upon us and afterwards Christmas. The traditional Christmas Peking Duck is cooling it's heels in the fridge. Xmas Eve we soak the duck in a ginger soy bath and then hang it for half a day to dry, just like the Fa-Ra-Rah-Ra, Ruh-Ra-Ra Chop Suey restaurants do. (Oh, dooo click on the link!)

The weekend is supposed to be warm with a high of eighties, but we'll take anything warmer than fifty… Beats what the north is enjoying today! Most of the holiday shopping is completed and maybe a few cards need to go out, especially to overseas recipients. Unfortunately for us, our card list serving the 'over there' is growing shorter every year. I hope we can get back out to Europe sooner than later before everyone has transitioned to something/somewhere else. Not that I'm eager to actually socialize anywhere, perhaps it's some manifestation of withdrawal guilt I am feeling.

Or not.

Please everyone; Go buy some onesie pajamas (with footies), find a metrosexual hipster and dress him up and give him hot chocolate. The President has spoken…

Protected Species. Like a Persontee (PC speak for MANatee) or Bald Eagle.

At the very least there would be a "talk" about President Obama if that plaid dude was in my house!

Have a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Central Scrutinizer

Hello Sports-fans and other interested hep-cats!

It's time for the friday wrap up for the week. Nothing really notable going on at the Serenghetti Spa and Veldt Lounge, just keepin' on and faking it like we always do.

The Central Scrutinizer. I steal this character from Frank Zappa's 1979 album, "Joe's Garage". The Central Scrutinizer is a narrator of the story of Joe, a guy who wants to play music but gets wrapped up in a life of drugs, sex and "sleazery". The narrator is a moralizing hypocrite who seems to get his jollies out of watching Joe get dealt with in shocking ways which suits the narrator just fine.

Reminds me of our Gubmint.

Anyway, I have been shopping at the Commissary this past few weeks and there is a new experience going on. Oh, it's still the normal overcrowded hassle but there is a new twist: When you pay for your groceries the expectation is that the clerk will ask to see your military I.D. to ensure that you are eligible to use the facilities.

That's all good. Used to be that you showed an I.D. to get in the door, which slowed down things to a crawl when entering the store. And showing I.D. at checkout speeds up the process, for those of us who shop alone. (And allows three generations of people to shop while Granny shows her I.D.  and pays for the food for her daughter and granddaughter's families. "We gotta use Grandpa's benefit, cuz he served".) Sorry for digressing. The point I am making is that now the clerk holds your I.D. and scans it into the machine… Hmmm. Why would the Government be interested in my name and info at the Commissary?

The Government now knows exactly my buying habits, whether it's healthy food or not. Or whether I just purchased enough turkeys or hams to stock my restaurant which I own outside. (Btw, that does happen. I have watched certain people buy large quantities of meats which I know are for an extended family or commercial operation.) I do not care for this newest intrusion in my privacy. After all, the Internal Revenue Service has been used as a sledge hammer on law abiding citizens who dare to speak out about government abuses, in violation of First Amendment Constitutional rights.

What could go wrong?

Imagine some Central Scrutinizer scrutinizing on you. (As they eagerly eyeball the various unguents/salves and over the counter remedies you consume!) Will they think I'm weird for buying Cosmo and Marie Claire? Or is it just the zucchini and astro-glide…?

The takeaway quote at 1:58 of the video is… "The Constitution is being modified in order to accommodate… the future."


Big weekend of baking is upon us. The Spousal Unit has mass quantities of butter, margarine and flour with the obligatory sugar to make us all happy this Christmas season. We will stay home tonight in preparation of the big mix tomorrow.

But then the Gubmint already knows this by way of my I.D. card and this blog…

Have a safe and warm weekend, everybody!

P.S. (Radio announcer voice) "This is a message for our friends and neighbors in the occupied lands; The Chair is by the wall; The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is showing tonight at eight o'clock…TBS".

Friday, December 6, 2013

End of the week, again!

Preparations for getting underway will be performed today and we are going back to the dreaded Six Mile Creek by tomorrow afternoon. (Load up with beer, wine, snacks and anything else…)

Not really dreaded. This is an opportunity to visit the Crab Shack on Pearl Harbor day while enjoying all the natural beauty of the St Johns River while boating is an excuse in itself! Besides, the temperatures are in the low eighties(!) by early afternoon, so why not get underway and live the Florida lifestyle properly?

Living well is still the best revenge. Your unHumble writer thinks most Pearl Harbor veterans might perhaps agree, for the most part. I wish we knew of any living close by and would love to invite them for the trip up river. For that matter, I would be happy to take any of you readers on the planned journey, too.

The breaks of Naval Air...

"Ah, that's the 'Breaks of Naval Air'",  as most would observe to me back in the day.  The 'Breaks of Naval Air' comment would usually be intoned to me in a pseudo-apologetic manner when I was being directed to do something unpleasant, like wiping loose grease from a wet landing gear well during a wash job. Or taking fuel samples from underneath a Sea King helicopter while onboard a rolly-poly Oiler in the very North Pacific.

"Make sure there is no grease left… No water in the fuel sample!"


Nothing else to report, otherwise. We are enjoying fabulous weather while the northern part of our nation languishes in a winter-wonderland. This is why I will not live north of I-10.

Have a great weekend. Anyone who stops by the Crab Shack on Six Mile Creek will be encouraged to enjoy some cheap wine and beer onboard Barco Sin Vela II!

A nice memory of boating on the St Johns River.

Buzzards Cove, Palatka FL.

This is a scene of what may happen at the house while we are out:

Mao and Jellicle Cat napping during winter in Fort Lauderdale

P.S. Sailing Vessel, "My Mojo", mentioned the other day… Safely anchored at Lake Worth after two days underway, West Palm Beach. (Having fun, no doubt!)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Carrying on

Spent Monday afternoon assisting some friends on their departure from NAS Jax to some not so distant islands. Like anything we ever plan to do, there were annoying delays that popped up and kept the boat tied to the marina docks. For fifteen days… Finally, everything came together yesterday evening and they motored out into the evening chill on to their big family adventure. They got as far as the Jacksonville Landing! Today they will actually get to the ocean and head south. 

Good luck and fair winds to the crew of Mojo!

I wish I were going, too.

Have a nice Tuesday!

There was a phone call at ten, this morning. Mojo wanted to know if I could come by and pick one of the crew up and go to the storage locker to pick up some line. No problem, I was there in 20 minutes and off to the storage place. After getting a proper length of line we boltered back to the Landing and they were able to continue on.

It's always something! Glad to have been there to help.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Set the normal watch!

Back to the regular routine. We have watch batteries to acquire, toilet feed pipes to unleak and general maintenance to continue.

The four day weekend was an endless food fest in which we snacked pretty much every hour. The fridge is still packed with leftovers that we will need to deal with very sternly. Funny enough, we did not gain any extra tonnage over our already chubby selves! Another thing, I have never noticed so many football games on tv at literally each minute of the day. Is this symptomatic of the Roman Bread and Circuses thing?

This week I will plow through the minor repairs and keep as cheery as can be during a season of crowded stores, surly customers and falling temperatures. Harrumph!

Have a fruitful week!

Barco Out.

Happier times

There were eight people on a 27 foot sailboat carrying on! Winter 1993, NAS Jax Marina.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Clear skies and set to start the bird on it's journey!

To the Weber Kettle! First stop for Tom T. Turkey as he moves towards the dining extravaganza to be held not later than 1700.

The temps are in the 60's and we await Phil and the Mom unit who should be here in the next half hour.  

It was a bit nippy out last night, temps dropped to the 30's. No problem for me because I had about 24 pounds of Siamese cats on me and they provide intense warmth.

Here is the view out in the backyard;

Beautiful day to cook turkey on the grill in the Southern sunshine!

Secret Santa dropped off some stuff on the billiards table. Useful items for playing some new games in the neighborhood, iffen' some of our friends from down the street want to come by and play. (I have been hearing about some sucker punch game being played which is apparently fun for all the family!)

lf to r
1951 model of something that is 32 and special. In the light she looks like a spring chicken!
1969 model of three oh eight goodness, oh my! Why, one could almost reach out and peacefully touch someone!
1965 She's but twenty two, repeats over and over.
1979 year of a twenty two that's younger yet repetitive.

These goodies will supplement the others in our safe, which is fun and nice!

Have a great Thanksgiving and definitely have fun in a safe and sane manner!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The holidays are here.

All preparations for T-Day are finished, and there will be Michigan people occupying the Serenghetti Lounge for the next few days/weeks. There will probably be no need for the central heating system since the weather is merely in the upper 6o's, a veritable warm spell for those folks used to Traverse City style temperatures.

All foods have been gathered and there shall be plenty for everyone tomorrow, well, for that matter for today.    After we visit the Lodge (BPOE!), we will swarm back to the hut for smoked Boston Butt and potable beverages. This will be the start of a month of conspicuous consumption, oh yes.

Just got word from Barco's sister boat in the Pensacola area, Blue Heron. Mr. T's Haircut reports wind caused a dock line to part and the vessel then struck something which left a serious mark requiring repairs. Bad luck, I hate when that happens.

Sometimes you can think you have everything set and safe but nature has the final word concerning your preparations. I don't laugh at nature because we have been in a similar position, the First Barco was sunk by another boat which had not been properly secured. This can happen anytime and to anyone the net result from that other boat was three vessels sunk and two damaged. The owner had $100,000 in liability coverage, which naturally was not enough. The first Barco was insured for $160,000. Never mind what the Meridian '46 was worth… The insurance companies called the incident, "An act of God". We got our check, so I'm good.

As for the Barco Crew and those who live close by,  we are looking forward to the Thanksgiving feast tomorrow. I'm thankful that the Spousal Unit and I are in great health and we look forward to good things happening in the near future. We hope everything goes well for all our readers and their family units, too! Good Health to all!

I will be back over the next day or so, stand by for action!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Back again to Friday!

Every day seems to be a Friday, at least when I come back to this site to whine about what ever be ailin' me.

No ailments to be reported. Everyone is happy in our little parcel of paradise.

The skies have been cloudy, so no sighting of the comets for me. Maybe tomorrow?  We have the Spousal Unit's Dad with us for the next few weeks and this means socializing and good foods. We need to keep up appearances and keep the outside world thinking that we are civilized around these parts.

I will make a beer and wine run to the Five Points section of town, six bottles of New Zealand Pinot Noir for the upcoming holiday along with a keg of Fuller's London Pride for our other guests to enjoy while dining on the usual. Speaking of usual, I bought a 15 pound turkey at Publix for fifty-nine cents a lb, making our bird a big $9.00 in costs! I would buy more but we just don't have room in the freezer. There can't be any hungry people in the US, food is too darn cheap! You could feed a family every week with turkeys and pork at these great prices.

We will do the club tonight with the routine stay onboard Barco afterwards, and it will be a nice evening on the water!

Have a great Friday and stay safe out there, ok?

Barco Out.

Appropriate JJW tune;

Monday, November 18, 2013

Comets on the horizon

There are a two comets visiting the Sun this week, visible to the East if you have a view of the lower horizon, about 0500. This is one of those lucky deals where NASA has a space probe in position to get some high quality images and analysis of dust spewing forth from the ice balls. I enjoy seeing a comet whenever I can because they represent long lost building blocks from the origins of our Solar System. Chunks of matter from deep space that return to the Sun, sometimes to pass and continue their journey back to the Oort Cloud from where they usually originated and others to actually impact our Sun. The last clear comet I was able to see clearly was the Hale-Bopp of 1997, which was viewable in the Western sky.

Today, the sky is cloudy so I will try again over the next viewing window which will reoccur before dawn every morning.

Before we had mass communication and electronics, astronomers watched the heavens for mystical portents or messages from above concerning the current events of the day. Comets were considered particularly important because people thought that a speedy message was being sent from the gods to us hooman beans about the screw-ups of our Rulers and the behavior of the people in general.

So... We have two comets (that were only recently discovered!) stopping by Mercury, where NASA just happens to have a space probe orbiting? Makes one say,  "Hmmm."

Cool NASA image from the Hubble Space Telescope.


The weekend was pleasantly boring other than a lucky discovery of a small shop across the river which sells bulk Indian spices. We are now in possession of a fragrant collection of  those spices the likes of which only the very wealthy could have possibly held two hundred years ago. I'm talking about literal pounds of garam masala, turmeric, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, star anise and so forth. The Spousal Unit has had to transfer all spices into their own three drawer storage cabinets which has now opened up space on the counter-by-the-stove. What a mess! And we were able to gather such goodies without having to contract with a shipowner or spice caravan. 'Murica!

This week we have guests coming in from Michigan so the Barco home will be a-bustlin' with activity. A keg of Fuller's London Pride is inbound for our kegerator and the gathering of good food(s) begins in earnest for the Thanksgiving celebration.

Have a nice week and keep your eyes in the skies! May the visiting comets bring good luck to you readers and to us here in Florgia.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Another very nice day

Friday is a day we cut a lot of slack with, giving it a bit more credit than it really deserves. It seems nicer if only because we know we can sleep in later tomorrow, or not depending on what our plans may be. Which is nice.

Everyday is a Saturday for me. Sorry.

As always, I mount up expeditions into the unknown… In the past couple of weeks, I have tried to begin a journey into sourdough baking beginning with starter and other recipes.

I love the bread that is primarily thought of as the San Francisco treat. Who hasn't dreamed of keeping a pot of starter hidden in the dark places of the kitchen,  ready for a fast mix-up into a tasty loaf of sourdough bread? Just reading stories of Old California, the Forty-niners (Not the Football Team) living in a small shack, panning for gold by day, while some character going by the name of "Cookie" or "Old Sourdough" bakes up warm sour bread to take the chill out of the prospector's bones. Sounds good, right?

Using the trusty internet, I googled starter and found this site. I followed closely, the directions therein and made starter in an old Ball jar that had originally been used by the Spousal Unit's Grandmother. The jar is green, for goodness sakes, so you know this is gonna be authentic! With all the great foods processed in this jar over the past 75 years, I'm hoping the Grandmother's  legacy will bear continued goodness for our benefit. (Thanks, Viola Miller!)

This is the starter after a couple weeks of feeding and nurturing. The color is more of a light tan which the camera misses.

The first afternoon, the starter grew like a jarred monster, doubling its size in a couple hours. I had to pour out half just to keep it contained in the quart jar! I placed the excess starter in a bowl and kept feeding both as planned. (Feeding consists of 1/3 cups of warm water, flour and a large pinch of sugar for fuel) Ten days later I made two loaves of sourdough recipe bread using the bowl starter first. The bread came out cake-like and just generally sucked, so I fed them both to the birds.  My style of cooking always requires me to plan for tossing the first anything I make. For example; the First Pancake shall always be tossed in the trash. It's the rules… So shall it be with bread.

The Real starter which lives today in a green antique jar!

Yesterday, I felt that the time was right to really try out the recipe. The starter culture has had a couple of weeks to sour up and I was planning on rib-eye steak for our evening meal. Fresh bread would be a nice garnish and the added benefit would be that She Who Will Be Obeyed would think I was an all-around good fella for going the extra hundred feet to make her happy.

Following the recipe, I used the big electric mixer to combine 1.5 cups of sourdough starter, yeast, warm milk (105 degrees F!) and five cups of flour into a ball of dough which I kneaded for the prescribed ten minutes. I then let dough rise in the oven with light on for warmth. About 1700, I placed two loaves into 350 degrees of convection powered heat. Thirty minutes later, two golden colored loaves of bread were ready, just as She Herself walked in.

"Smells great in here!" was her hello. (ah yes!) "What's for my dining delight this evening?"

"Grilled steak," said I. Would you like a glass of Pinot Noir?"

She likes me! ;)

After dinner, the bread looked like this.
The bread was actually bread-like! It is a very pleasant tasting bread especially with softened butter. Unfortunately, it is not sourdough, darn it. But we will take the good deal because fresh bread is always a tasty treat, even if it tastes of warm yeast. Yum!

The Sourdough starter has a name now, since it is a living thing in our kitchen; 

Seymour. (Feed me, Seymour!) 

Like a child, we have great hopes for it but today it disappoints. Maybe next time, hmm?

The weather has cooled and short pants have been replaced by long. The temps are still in the 70's in the afternoon, but there is a chill at night.

Here is a depiction of our cats which hangs in the living room;

I love this bit of art! So real...

We have three of Them, whom we serve. But the watercolor shows six. Three seems like six when you are trying to sleep at night. The Cats are in full winter mode right now,  which means they reside mostly on the bed in a pile trying to keep warm on a couple of clean towels.

So, back to Friday; I like Fridays, even if it is a day like others. I will be cleaning the hut this morning and we will  do the club thing, later.

Have a nice day and weekend! 

I have been cleaning about the hut and had the Tube of Ewe going. Here is the coolest video with Jerry Jeff and his buddy from 23 years ago;

 Great back story to the song. Please to continue with your fine day!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Feelin' bettah!

Sorry for staying away. The various chemicals and antihistamine related pharmaceutical concoctions have made me unreliable in not-the-normal way. I choose to be predictably unreliable because it pleases me. But when I am necessarily connected to boxes of serial kleenex, I tend to just layabout and moan. The Cats like this and pile up on me because they think they are helping. They tire easily, yah-know, and welcome me into the sleeping area as if I was a bigger cat needing rest. Ahh, but I am the cat who constantly sniffles, coughs and uses mass quantities of tree products to stanch the flow of nasty fluids. Yuck!

That's me. Complicated. Boring. Snotty.

While recuperating from my code, I did spend a few mornings bubbling in our concrete tub (with flowing hot waters!) which is adjacent to the cement pond. The neat effect was seeing the new algaecide (Al-Jazeera?, Naw…) that our Pool Professional is using. The chemical FOAMS when agitated! So I scooped out the foam and settled in to the curative hot waters and enjoyed nature. I noticed blue jays, finches, mockingbirds and lovely red/less red cardinals, flitting about searching for food around the seedless bird feeders… er. Get up out of water, go inside, get birdseed, load feeders! SLACKER!!!

Guilt is a powerful emotion which makes us move forward to be better. I really hate letting birds down.
Note to self; Be sure to buy a few extra turkeys at the Commissary and drop them off at the local Church… Really.

A few weeks back, I was visiting at the NAS Jax docks with a couple friends who enjoy sailing. We got on the subject of Richard Henry Dana's classic, "Two Years Before the Mast". My friend who is recently retired from the Coast Guard, (A Naval Architect who is a former Nuke!) Bill had never read this particular book either as part of his years of formal study or for reading fun. So I took it upon myself to order a copy from Amazon  intending to make it a gift. The book came in the mail yesterday and I decided that I will have to retain this particular book… It is a first edition from 1941 with color plates. The interesting thing about this book is that it has never been handled! The sales flyer from 1941 was still present and there are no marks or signs of handling anywhere. I think someone received this book seventy years back, left it in the box, put it on a shelf and forgot about it. Sorry Bill, I will get you another one. A nicer one, for sure… ;) It will be here before you leave on your sailing voyage!

First act for today: Watch this...  http://theborderlinesociopathicblogforboys.blogspot.com/2013/11/now-this-russian-guy-is-professional.html The takeaway quote is …"He turns ON the wipers!"

Translation of conversation (Provided at the You Tube site…) "Following conversation ensues after crash: Guy#1: "Oh, we float! Guy#2: Where we go? Guy#1: I don't know, maybe to the shore. Guy#2: Don't steer the wheel, it's useless."

Just like life, right? The Russian people are such deep philosophers, naturally.

In our rebel-like quest to flip the world a big digital bird, we shall dine at the Napa Valley Wine celebration event tonight at the Club.  Enjoyment will occur in the knowing that there are many who cannot find such happiness. On the flip side of my smuggishness; I'll bet folks like Prince Charles get sick and effin' tired of dining big everyday. My joy comes from doing it every few weeks. This because I don't have to stand up to give a speech toasting my hosts and congratulating the local mandarins who completed some important Public Utility Project, either.

Yes, I'm a jerk, too. Just in my own simpleton way. (But feeling very self impotent! sp.int)

Naturally, after dining we shall reside temporarily on the Barco for dessert. Not sure what the weather will be like this weekend, too lazy to look it up online. Sometimes, it's better to be pleasantly surprised than to be disappointed by our own weak expectations. To be a bit clearer, (like my sinuses!Thankewevarymuch) let it rain or shine.

Please enjoy the day, whatever it brings!

Monday, November 4, 2013

I haz a code...

Since last week, I have been afflicted with a very tenacious version of this season's portable gift which is giving me something to do. I should own kleenex stock.

This means no real updates since last Wednesday. Be back soon!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fine Dining at the Serengetti Spa and Veldt Lounge

I get cards and letters regularly from my public, and many of them ask, "How do ewe keep the Spousal Unit happy (and staying with you!) even though you look like a Milwaukee Bowling Enthusiast drinking a jug of Pabst Blue Ribbon???"

Good Question, Sports Fans.

My method of keeping a tight lid on the matrimonial pressure cooker is through a series of maneuvers designed to keep her thinking good thoughts about yours truly. First, I make sure that I keep kissin' butt like any good sycophantic ne'er do well. Next up I keep the compliments flowing in a shameless manner that would make a politician blush. Finally, I make sure to surprise the Spousal Unit with interesting meals that she can brag to her colleagues about.

Oh, yes. That would mean interesting meals that don't start with defrosting a package that says "Stouffer's" on it. (Not that there's anything wrong with that).

That there is a big one. Bragging about dinner being made by the time she gets home ensures that she does not look too deeply into my gambling/illegal activities that really fill my mornings and afternoons.

Apparently, many American Ladies go off to work and bring home good salaries just to come home to disappointment.


Last week I made up a chicken curry that stunk the house out with Sub-Continental spicy goodness. It was served with rice, chutney and naan bread.

What I didn't tell her was that there was a choice of chicken or lamb. I made up chicken which left the lamb shank feeling lonely and unwanted in the Barco fridge. Until today…

At 1630, local, I started by cutting the meat off a 1.75 pound lamb shank. ($6.00 at the Commissary).

Next I chopped a large yellow onion into bite sized pieces.

I take two heaping teaspoons of chopped red pepper from the shaker and place in separate bowl.

Into a small bowl, I placed two and a half teaspoons of minced, jarred garlic and the same of ginger.

Into another bowl, I placed the dry spices combined together. Here is my recipe;

3 Tsps of garam masala powder

1 Tsp of turmeric

2 Tsps of coriander powder

2 Tsps of cumin powder

2 Tsps of paprika

Salt to taste

  You will need half a small pkg of plain yogurt. I use the pound sized bowls of Fage  0 fat greek yogurt.

28 ounce can of diced tomatoes or three medium tomatoes cubed.

I 'Toast' the powdered spices for a few moments (don't over do!) in a small pan at the number 7 heat on electric stove. This activates the spices in a big way and lets everyone know that Momma's getting' good vittles!

Take a half stick of butter and melt in dutch oven. Snobs may want to use clarified butter (Ghee!) but I don't bother. Melt butter in medium heat.

Add chopped onion to butter and begin to sautee until almost translucent. Add the garlic and ginger mince. Stir constantly.

Add the red pepper flakes. Add more if you want a hotter meal.

Add the meat chunks and keep stirring the pot to mix and prevent burning. When the meat has the outside looking like it is cooking, turn the stove heat down. Don't forget to add some salt!

Now is the time to add the toasted dry spices. Stir well. It should smell luxuriantly of exotic spices.

Now is a good time to add in the tomatoes and a couple of large spoonfuls of the yogurt to mellow the concoction. Stir well.

Turn down the heat to about one and a half and allow the pot to simmer for about 45 minutes.

I know some may find the looks a bit off-putting. Yogurt was piled on!

Serve on basmati rice.

Good sides are Poppodums or Naan bread.

This is how I keeps da wimmin's happy, peppy and bursting with love!

Barco Out!

Friday, October 25, 2013

"The Underway Checklist is available on the Quarterdeck…"

The title was one of the shipboard announcements that would be repeated regularly over the shipboard announcing system (1MC) about eight hours prior to the ship departing the docks.

In honor of the Barco getting underway, I have loaded food aboard, perhaps 70 meals of dehydrated camping stuff, mostly the kind for sale in Utah and Idaho. The nice people in Utah who are devotees of the local faith are required to keep (two years?) a supply of food stored away for when the End Times are upon us. I can report we have about six months at the house, depending on whether we eat a meal in the size they recommend (whomever they are) but I think the two meal size is what most 'Muricans call a single. Like the two servings in a single can of soda? Right.  So I guess we have three months at the crew home and hearth.

I have a few of these containers by Mountain House. There are also MRE's (Meal Rejected for Eating) and other long life foods.

Sooo, back to the story! I placed a serious number of the long life pouches  on the Barco in case we ever needed some good side dishes when the odd guest(s) stop by. The benefit is that we can also bug out on a moments notice, which is a nice sort of plan.

As for today, I have the Barco rigged for departure in the next five hours, needing only some barley pops and aged grape juice to round out the provisioning.

I went looking for a typical Navy 1MC announcement pertaining to the title, but I found this hilarious shipboard video instead. NSFW for language, but it is a couple guys on a ship, expect F bombs.

Off to Six Mile Creek and a lunch with the First Coast Cruisers from the Marine Trawlers Owners Association, planned underway time is 1500. Be there or be square!

By the way; Have a great weekend!

That is all, Barco out.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Road Trip

Friday was the day we drove the Family Truckster to Tampa in order to have dinner at a little steak house called Bern's. Do not let the modern website fool you; It is a corner joint that looks a bit worn on the outside and more importantly,  looking like a 1950's red light district flophouse inside.

Our hotel generously drove us to the restaurant in the shuttle van. There was much hustle and bustle in the parking lot so I was only able to snap off a quick shot of the sign.

The parking lot is valet only, there were people arguing and not wanting to pay the five bucks for parking. 

Look, I thought, just pay the money and get inside, ok?

The waiting area was crowded. Many people don't know that you should get a reservation in advance. Like a month ago.

We were quickly ushered into one of the dining areas and found ourselves sitting at a little two-top about five feet from the head. I was not feeling the love. In fact, I was getting a bit perturbed that we had expended much effort to be there and it was frustrating to swallowed up by a large steak machine.

There was a loud party of eight across to my left. There were grandparents, parents and chubby ill-dressed twenty something hipster wearing a pink something covering her rolls and topped off by a Levi jacket which barely covered the loud bits. They looked like they were either returning or leaving on a cruise ship.

The dining room was not a quiet place of reflection or staid people enjoying expensive food. Nope, it was like being at Banchero's Italian Family restaurant.
Family Fun. Not my kinda place unless I had a family to go with.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.
On to the menu; It is a thick menu, one that should be pondered for a week or so. Seriously. Bern's owners and staff take much pride in the good foods they provide which is why the restaurant is so busy.

We ordered the 14 ounce Chateaubriand, which is like a Filet Mignon only with the grain of the meat horizontal instead of vertical. It is priced at $70. Don't choke on that number! It comes with french onion soup, fresh green salad plate, and baked potato and green beans. The price was for two!
Good value. We normally pay about $28 (each) at the Yacht Club and the food is good, but not Bern's good.

Here is a pro tip for anyone dining at Bern's; Don't try to eat all the food. You won't make it to the dessert room.
We ordered a bottle of Chateauneuf de Pape, I think it was a '94 or '96. It set us back about $140. 

Next time, I will bring our aerator for allowing the wine to 'breathe' a bit more aggressively. The Sommelier decanted the bottle but we needed another twenty minutes for the wine to fully relax in a more drinkable way. But dinner was being served and wine must be consumed with the beef, mustn't it? 

The wine started very jammy and sweet it was not until dinner was almost over with that we started to really enjoy the subtle flavors. 

By that time, we were hustled into the kitchen to see the inner works of Bern's. There were signs on every wall that read: "Quiet".

The kitchen area reminded me of the galley at MCRD San Diego. It must have been a hundred people moving about in quiet efficiency; A steak station. The Mixologists. The salad room. Veggie areas. Breads.

A person hoping to work at Bern's will spend a year in back before being allowed to work out front serving customers. Since most dining bills will be in excess of $300, one can see why people want to be part of the tips gettin' staff. (I read our tab closely and noticed the restaurant places a 12% service charge. Our server (Who was excellent, got 11% from me). Pays to be watchful, nowadays.

We were then invited/herded over to the ready wine cellar. Thousands of bottles of fine wines were stored in cool dark temperatures on racks that stretched as far as the eye can see from floor to rafters. I could spend weeks in that place, believe me!

Before we had too much time to ponder in the silence and peace of the wine cave, we were then directed to the dessert room where a cozy booth (At Last! A proper table in private!) awaited us.  And we were given another large menu with dessert and wine choices. The nice young lady who was helping us was not knowledgeable about dessert wines so she brought us the Manager/Sommelier named Nate. 

Nate helped us choose a Port, a 1970 Vintage that was a bit fruity and sweet. This bottle cost at least $150 (I was getting a bit fuzzy on facts by then!) and then Nate brought us a couple of tastes of the most amazing Port I have ever tried.

The Tawny nectar of 1856
It was from a Vintage dating to 1856. We can buy a bottle for about $3400! Yikes. It was the smoothest Port and it was a great treat given that a mere taste would cost us a hundred bucks, each. Very nice of the Manager to comp us on such a memorable drink.

We had some nice cheeses to go with our bottle of Vintage Port and I (of course) did my best to get rid of the evidence before paying the bill.

Dinner ran us about $500 total. It was a little under what I thought it would really cost so I felt we had a good value for the money spent. 

We called the hotel and had them send out the shuttle van to pick us up for the return to our room. Much better than breaking the law or having to deal with a taxi driver who might want to take advantage of us by cruising around downtown to gain a few extra bucks on the padded bill.

View from our tenth floor room over looking Davis Island.

The next morning we took a walk around downtown Tampa. There was a Vegan fair going on by the Forum, we were amused by the scrawny and gaunt people who walked about feeling superior to us meat eaters. Funny enough, there was a Taco Truck parked out front and there was some sort of live music being played by people not speaking English. 

Running through my mind at that moment; If God wanted us to not eat animals, why did He make them out of meat?

Whatever. Boring, antiseptic Downtown Tampa. No restaurants with local character. Nothing but concrete buildings and Banks. Downtown looks like every other downtown in America. Millions spent removing the charm and the poor to be replaced by vegan yuppies and their bicycles, all congregating at the stupidf&*^ Starbucks coffee joint.

I can see why people are getting angry with Corporations and Government. There are no people downtown anymore. Only police and empty artificiality.

Time to get back to the hotel!

We got back to the room around lunch time and since there was no place to eat locally (Besides the overpriced hotel restaurant)  we decided to get a ride to the Davis Island Yacht Club.

Oh yes!

We were challenged upon our entrance to the clubhouse and we were immediately welcomed like old family once I displayed my Yacht Club card. There was a nice lunch of hamburgers and we met new friends who were happy to have visitors to chat with. 

After a few adult beverages, we were even lucky enough to be invited for an afternoon sail with our new friends John and Ramon on a Sabre 28!

I sent these cellphone pictures to John with an invitation for them to cruise with the Barco from our home yacht club. I hope they come up soon, since we owe them big for taking us out on Tampa Bay.

John of el-j Productions, Tampa.


Engrossed in conversation

John's Dad was in the Coast Guard in WW2. He sails with John at all times.

Busy cockpit.
Davis Island Yacht Club is an incredibly vibrant sailing club and we enjoyed their company until darn near eight o'clock. The Commodore's Spouse was nice enough to get us back to the hotel. What a weekend, and it was just Saturday night!

Sunday we were up fairly early and packed up for the four hour drive back to the Cats and a return to a normal life. Hotel and Yacht Clubs take a toll on a body and we need to get healthy again.

This week, I will be busy with cleaning up the Barco interior for a weekend trip to Six Mile Creek, we have invited some folks to come with us so I better be ready for guests.

Have a great week!

Barco Out.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Pox upon all parasites.

I meant to say Politicians. And their media mouthpiece accomplices.

It is unbelievable how these well to do politicians ( Who seem to be business owners!) can't seem to balance a federal budget, or for that matter offer up a federal budget like the law requires them to. "What does it matter?" Sayeth a well known harpy who has lived luxuriously on the public dime for so many years.


May all who have brought our Country to ruin feel personal pain in their lives. Especially career criminals  Congress and Senator critters. Perhaps a bit of homeless living for these modern day Robber Baron Rascals, cut them off from the public dole and have them live under a freeway overpass like the modern urban outdoorsmen, not knowing if they will be safe or where the next shelter/meal will be coming from. Nah, they will always land on their feet with the help of some undisclosed golden parachute. That is the way of the Ivy League Elites...

We are off and running for a road trip to Tampa. The possibly unbalanced, well armed biker will be at the homestead keeping the kittens fed and petted.

Old business:
The saga of the twelve volt problem has finally been ended on a positive (heh-heh) note. As you already know, we had a new charger put in last week. But on Sunday morning, I found the circuit breaker was switching off on the AC side of the charger.  I had the Boatyard guy come out and trouble shoot and he found the 10 Amp breaker was not sturdy enough for the power draw of our Pronautic 60 amp charger. A 20 amp breaker was installed and now the batteries are being kept at a 13.4 volt level, as it should be.

Now, if I could just get a regular paycheck like Congress does, I could afford to pay for all this maintenance!

I need a boat trip. Next week...

Have a nice weekend and stay safe out there!

Barco out.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fun with electricity

Well, the last post described the frustration with batteries being stone cold dead and the lack of charging capacity. According to the Maintenance GuRu at the yard, the charger does not have poop to pop.

I would think that a forty ampere charger would have enough go in it to make 'trons travel forth and stay in a couple of batteries especially since the charger it replaced only had thirty amps.

The google sent me to various boat electrical sites and I found that Pronautic had products with very good reviews compared to my present Xantrex charger and at prices that were competitive. An order was placed on Saturday with the local West Marine for a 40 Amp Pronautic charger which would set me back $375, with my Port Supply discount. Defender had a similar product that would cost $428. Tuesday morning I went to collect my prize... The attractive Boat Consultant who made my order was not there but another young lady helped me retrieve my order. We went through the usual process of getting my payment in order when I decided to inspect my parcel a bit more closely.

The box read; Xantrex ProCharge2 40amp.
Nice and compact. Served well for three years.


We stopped the purchase process and I let the nice lady know how disappointed I was for them to have switched my order. It seems that while writing up the order part numbers got crossed and the cheapest part was ordered. I whined and complained for a few moments and went home to search online and buy elsewhere.

A call was made and there was a conversation with the boatyard about chargers and the GuRu said that it wouldn't hurt to have a charger with higher capacity and maybe that is what made the current charger fail was my system being a bit more load than 40 amps could bear. Hmmm. When in doubt, go large and over come the obstacle.

Right. I went back to the store and walked to the charger that they had in stock, a sixty 50 amp Pronautic charger which was clearance priced at $522. Only it was a 60 amp charger but priced like the fifty. Take the good deal, quick!

The Barco was brought back to the yard and the charger was installed (It's HUGE!) and I asked the guy's to replace a heater hose while they were at it.

From the official website, 50 amp version shown.

Good thing I asked for the extra work; The heater hose was dry rotted and ready to fail. It is a twelve foot hose with most of the hose being behind bulkheads and floors. Had this hose failed I would not have seen the leaking coolant and would have wondered why the port engine was overheating in a big way, perhaps to failure of an engine component!

The bill will be in for all this latest effort this afternoon.

The Barco was finally finished at 1330, and I happily pulled out and was on the river with beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures to be enjoyed while we drove alone.

Please to click and enlarge the cellphone pics:

Ortega River on the way to drawbridge.

Entering St Johns River

Someone glad to be boating. Note the float coat I wear whenever I am alone on the water.

Heading South towards NAS Jax

Messy decks.
Later, I will return to Barco to do some cleaning of the topsides and readying boat for the weekend. Our next trip is scheduled to be an Outback Crabshack run at the end of the month. We will be joining the MTOA (Marine Trawler Owners Association) for a lunch get together.

Just an excuse to go traveling and simulating the cruising condition!

Have a nice weekend!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Barco's twelve volt system is hard down.


Stopped by the boat yesterday afternoon, started the A/C and was putting things away when I noticed the lights wouldn't come on. The DC panel showed no voltage on either house battery which was certainly frustrating.

Well, another ruined evening. Not sure what is malfunctioning but the battery charger is now suspect. I will bring a manual charger out today and do some trouble shooting. The weather is sure nice and some boating would be preferable to the idea of bilge diving/testing. Now I can look forward to spending quality time at the dock doing the chores necessary to make this all better. Or spend some ducats, who knows?

Oh well.

Glad to be healthy and have only minor issues to deal with on a beautiful weekend!

Stay good out there!

Barco out.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Boat update

The Barco is in the water with a fresh bottom, and neato prop-speed treated shafts and wheels. We be cruizin' with max efficiency, gliding through the di-hydrogen monoxide solution in as well a condition as the designers imagined/planned. BTW It cost two and a half B.O.A.T. units.  psheww! (Imagine a rifle shot sound)

Faux Whining Alert: Seems every time I have work done on The Precious it will cost a couple large. It's the price I pay for helping to keep the local boatyard(s) fluid with full employment which is another way of keeping the economy moving.  Plus I enjoy this hobby, which is nice.

We have been watching the storm situation in the Gulf, looks like a bit of rain is headed towards Nawlins and Pensacola. I guess we might see  moisture in the sky in the form of light rain around here, but I think the real sweat is on the foreheads of the weather guessers who predicted a wilder hurricane season. I'll take the good deals, thanks. We have enough low pressure suction coming from the District of Columbia, we don't need any destructive weather to draw attention away from the frivolity up North. Please to be keeping our coastal regions safe and dry, 'kay?

If I can get some sunshine this weekend, a boat ride may have to happen. Bikini clad ladies may move to the head of the line, iffin' anyone might want to cruise. Perhaps this afternoon, post six mile treadmill torture?

Go play outside, everyone. Enjoy the new season... See you all later!

Waterspout video. 'Murica!!!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I'm disgusted with the childish antics coming out of D.C.

President Teenager and his lap dog media co-conspirators make Orwellian illusions come to life.

Anyway, I'm ignoring it all and doing an hour and a half each day on the treadmill. In honor of Hockey season I have watched Slap Shot II and III, Goon and will watch a couple more hockey oriented films. That's six miles a day, gotta bump it up to eight in the next week or so.

I do enjoy the Hanson Bros! Funny as hell!

Their web site describes the "Sensitive Portrayals" of the trio in popular sports films.

Gonna go burn some beef on the grill. See you sooner than later.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Back for a few moments

Busy week was had. The Spousal Unit had two family members visit last week, very nice! The 60 foot oak tree on the side of our house decided to come crashing down on our neighbor's property... Yikes! Thankfully, it was raining heavily and no children were playing where the tree struck--a spot two feet from their trampoline and ten feet from their pool!

No real damage, our fence needed to have a new section put in and the tree (and accompanying mess) was cut up by our yard feller, Jerry. The tree now resides in a hundred pieces stacked nicely in the side yard. I will let it season and dry before I rent a log splitter to make smaller and more usefully sized chunks for barbecuing. Helps to make lemonade when we are given lemons.

Went to a retirement ceremony at NAS Jax. The Flag Aide to the local Admiral finished up 26 years of service. He got the Navy Band for his doo, it was nice and properly done on Friday morning. There was a party to celebrate the retirement which was held at the Yacht Club later on in the evening. I closed that down, oh yessiree! Good time was had by all.

Other than that which I have described, we are making like hamsters on the wheel, running fast but getting no where.

This morning, I will be at the Barco and shall bring her to Sadler Point Marina for a yard period. Possibly a bottom paint job but more likely just having a cleaning of the undersides with a treatment being applied chemically to the running gear to prevent barnacle infestation of the props and shafts.

Break Out Another Thousand! (B.O.A.T.) I'm glad to be able to enjoy these challenges!

Please to have a good week, all of you.

The Port side engine decided not to start. I tried wiggling wires, tapping the solenoid and even using a large screwdriver to jump the posts.... Nothing. And it was almost 0900, the appointed time of our haul out!

Unhooked from the dock and decided to do it on single engine which sounded like a good thing to do (Much cheaper to get repairs done at the facility) and the tides seemed to be slack. It was a quick process to enter the Ortega river and the Marina had three people at the hauling berth to help me maneuver into place. I got the boat in the dock with a minimum of control input and actually got the boat stopped (straight!) with the  one engine. I looked like a pro to the maintainers who were about to haul and block the boat!

The undersides looked really clean so the only work to be done is to strip the shaft and props to yellow metal and seal them with a patented chemical which preserves the shafts and prop from barnacles and slime attachment . Allegedly.

We will need the starter specialist to go through the port side starter system and also check the alternator and battery charger output system, too.

I'm sure the bill will be two and a half B.O.A.T. units. At least the targeted relaunch date is this Friday, just in time for the weekend.

See you all later!