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Hoc non est blog
Well, it isn't! Yes, it has a date under which there's an entry describing some aspect of life here at the Moose ranch, or some comments on the world and culture at large, but this really isn't a blog. It's more like..... a web site that can be easily updated! Look - there's not even a comment system. Can't be a blog without a comment system.... Anyway, here it is. Enjoy.


Psssssst.....

Saturday, March 31, 2007 @ 08:33 PM

Look over here. I think this not-a-blog will go to "just archives" soon.

Not that there's been all that much to archive for the past 1.5 years (approximate time since last entry here).

< - Byron

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Something New on the Stories Page

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 @ 08:30 PM

There's a new poem on the stories page.

- Byron

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Pianos Mentioned in the Bible!

Sunday, September 18, 2005 @ 09:29 PM

Tonight, we were reading Psalm 33 with the girls, and I realized that pianos were right there in the second part of verse one. And you can tell by the context that of course it's referring to pianos. After all, verses 2 and 3 three continue the musical theme.

Here's Psalm 33:1-3, from the New King James Version:

1 Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous!
  For praise from the upright is beautiful.
2 Praise the LORD with the harp;
  Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.
3 Sing to Him a new song;
  Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

Every now and then when I play it, praise really does come from the old upright (and from the one who plays it).

- Byron

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Remember What Tomorrow Is

Sunday, September 18, 2005 @ 07:47 PM

It's Talk Like A Pirate Day! Arrrrrrrrrrr.

- Byrrrrrron

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Cincinnati Chili

Saturday, September 10, 2005 @ 12:59 PM

For those who are interested in a Cincinati Chili recipe (and you know who you are), here it is.

                             Cincinnati Chili

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
  1              quart  water
  2             medium  onions -- finely chopped
  2          8 oz cans  tomato sauce
  5                     whole allspice
     1/2      teaspoon  red pepper
  1           teaspoon  ground cumin
  2             pounds  ground beef
  4             cloves  garlic
  4        tablespoons  chili powder
  2        tablespoons  vinegar
  1              large  bay leaf
  5              whole  cloves
  2          teaspoons  Worcestershire sauce
     1/2         ounce  bitter chocolate
  1 1/2      teaspoons  salt
  1           teaspoon  cinnamon

Add ground beef to water in a 4 quart pot, stir until beef 
separates to a fine texture.  Boil slowly for 30 minutes

Add all other ingredients. Stir to blend, bringing to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 3 hours.  For 
the last hour, the pot may be covered after desired consistency
is reached (runny enough to be  ladled, but not watery).

Chili should be refrigerated overnight so that fat can then 
be lifted from the top before reheating and serving (the better
ground beef you use, the less fat  to fuss with)


Commonly served:
3-way - plate of spaghetti, covered with chili, and then finely 
grated mild cheddar cheese.  Serve with bottle of Louisiana red
pepper sauce, for those who  want more heat.
4-way - 3-way plus chopped onions (usually) or chili beans
5-way - 3-way plus onions and beans

Cheese Coney:  hot dog on bun, with mustard, chili, and finely 
grated mild cheddar cheese (optionally, add chopped onions).


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Oh. Canada.

Friday, August 19, 2005 @ 09:10 PM

The first week of June, we went north for a week's vacation. It's been a while since we got back from the great north (it wasn't white this time of year), so I've probably forgotten half of what we did, but here's an attempt at retelling.

Warning: Rambling travelogue ahead.


Saturday

We packed most of the stuff Friday night before we left, so, in theory, we could get an early start Saturday morning. We got out at 8:40 - early enough, but earlier would have been nicer, as the end of the day proved. I misjudged just how long it would take us to get up there.

We drove north to Erie PA, then east into NY and ate at a McDonald's there. We told ourselves that it would be the last McDonalds for the whole trip. We were right.

We crossed the Peace Bridge from Buffalo into Canada and the girls fell asleep. Getting in was incredibly easy - "where are you from" and "where are you going." They didn't even ask about the hundreds of pounds of high explosives packed in our suitcases (just kidding). We were listening to Tanglefoot as we crossed the border. Somehow it seemed appropriate.

We followed the QEW highway past Niagara and along the shores of Lake Ontario until we got only to the outskirts of Toronto, but close enough to get a glimpse of the CN Tower. We stopped for a walk around at a small mall. Then I discovered that I had forgotten my map of Toronto. And had my first experience with Canadian currency, since the news booth where I bought a map did not take credit cards. (This was our first stop in Canada.) But I got a fair exchange anyway.

We headed north from Toronto to Barrie, where we decided to stop at a grocery store and get some supplies for the morning. Rule 1 - never stop at the first grocery store off an exit. It was in an older mall, and was one of those "deep discount" stores. The nicer ones were a few lights further up the road. But we got what we needed, threw it into the cooler, and kept going.

We finally arrived at Collingwood, ON, at about 6:15 and checked into the condo. After unloading a few things (like what needed to go into the refrigerator) we headed out for supper. The closest place (a couple tenths of a kilometer) was called "Montana." Great - come all the way to Canada to eat at a place called Montana. But the food was good, and the girls ate well. It took the edge off their crankiness. Don't know why kids get cranky in the car. I know I've never been cranky in the car on vacation road trips.


Sunday We went to a small Baptist church in town. They had PowerPoint instead of hymnbooks (yuck) and had a few additional instruments instead of just a piano. But the sermon was good, if a little long. One of the announcements had to do with an upcoming baptism. Shortly after that, the pastor invited a family to come to the front. Turns out that they were going to be the special music for the offertory, but A. thought they were going forward to be baptized, since that's what she's seen at our own church.

In the afternoon, we tried to lay down for a rest, but nobody slept much. And the power went off in the middle of the afternoon. We wandered around to the front desk to get some information on the area, and the power came back on. We went out to another grocery store (this time a nicer one - an A&P) and laid in supplies for the whole week.

We had to adjust to buying meat in kgs and not lbs. But the produce was still sold by the lb. And the milk comes in bags. 4 liter bags of milk. They sell the 2L size (like a half gallon) in traditional cardboard containers. I still haven't figured out why they use bags.

Sunday we also explored the pool situation. There was an indoor pool at the resort, and we checked it out. The girls were skittish in the water at first and would not let go of us. That changed over the course of the week.

The unit we had was a two bedroom unit. Walking through the door brought you into the main area - kitchen to the immediate left, with stove, refrigerator, sink, dishwasher, and counter. Straight ahead was the dining area, with a big table and enough chairs, and the living area with a couch and two uncomfortable chairs and a gas log fireplace with the pilot lamp still lit (we had it turned off). At the end was a slider to the balcony.

To the left was the master bedroom with a king size bed, and a bath with shower that was quite large. To the right was the other bedroom with two double beds. Each bedroom (and the living room) had a TV. Some of the channels were in French. In the second bedroom there was a closet with the A/C unit. When it went on, it sounded like a giant fan starting up, which was appropriate, because it was a giant fan starting up. The girls did not do well in there, even though they had separate beds. After the first (long) night, we moved them into the king bed and Lise and I took the room with the double beds.

We were on the second floor, and had to hit "1" in the elevator to get up to our floor. Thus we reversed a trend of getting to ever higher floors with our condo trips - Massanutten, first floor, no steps; Williamsburg, second floor, no elevator; Outer Banks, fourth floor, no elevator. The girls got the hang of the elevator rather quickly and liked to help us get in and out and up and down.


Monday

We explored what there was to do at the resort. The girls and I went swimming in the outdoor pool (giving Lise some peace and quiet), and they were starting to enjoy the water more.

Monday evening was a social for the folks at the resort. There were free drinks and munchies, and we played a people bingo game. The announcer read out the winners and had some people come up on stage for some fun. We were not any of the chosen ones. We did get to meet some of the other folks staying there.


Tuesday

We went into the town of Collingwood and explored a little bit at a cookie shop and a candy store and some other places in the pleasant downtown shopping district.

After lunch, the girls and I took another dip in the indoor pool.

Then, we gathered at the front of the inn with many others, and boarded buses for a boat ride. After riding for 1.5 hours through some farmland, we came to Midland, and boarded a boat for a two hour cruise through a small part of the 30,000 Islands. That's way more than New York's Thousand Islands. I did not ask if they had salad dressing.

Midland (and Collingwood) are on the shore of Georgian Bay, which is the eastern part of Lake Huron. The lake cruise was quite enjoyable, and the boat was going through some narrow passageways between the islands. Many of the islands had cottages on them, and many were uninhabited. The girls liked the wind in their faces on the ride. We had some pizza and hot dogs for supper on the boat, and the buses got us back to the condo at 8:30 or so.


Wednesday

We saw snow.

Near Collingwood, the land going back from the lake is flat for several kilometers, then rises abruptly up about 1000 feet. There are several ski slopes along the ridge. Also, there's the Scenic Caves. They're more like deep cuts and crevasses in the rock than caves, but we went exploring anyway. The girls didn't do quite as good as I expected, but we had fun anyway. In the deepest part of the caves, there is still snow left over from last winter. It was very cool down there - about 40-45 degrees, and the sun does not reach, so the snow stays. The girls were rather fascinated by this.

At the same place there is a suspension foot bridge which is almost 400 feet long, 80 feet or so above the floor of a gulley, and 1000 feet in elevation above Georgian Bay. The girls and I walked across it; Lise did not.

For lunch, we visited one of the small local restaurants in town. I found out that Canadian ketchup is much sweeter than American, and that they serve duck sauce with chicken nuggets. I don't know why.

We also found that some of the speech patterns are different. "Out" becomes "oot" and "house" becomes "hoose." After a while, I picked up on the accent and drove Lise crazy with it. I was fascinated that I had heard this same pattern from someone I knew from Maryland's Eastern Shore.


Thursday

This was our Toronto day. Toronto is about 90 minutes (more or less) from Collingwood. We were delayed a little in the morning getting out because E. had acquired a bug bite near her eye and it was swelled almost shut. We administered some Benadryl and went off anyway.

The way to get into Toronto (from the north, at least) is to park at the Yorkdale Mall on the north side and catch the subway. We parked in a parking garage near a lift, went up one floor and found ourselves directly in the middle of the mall, with the entrance to the subway station only a short walk away.

The girls enjoyed the subway more than anything else in the city, I think. We took it all the way to Union Station, then walked to the CN Tower

The CN Tower is big. Really big. Really really tall. I pointed out a spot to Lise about 1/3 of the way up and told her that was how high the Seattle Space Needle was. It's much taller than the Empire State Building. It has two parts - the main Observation platform, and the Sky Pod - up even higher. The Sky Pod is the highest man-made publicly accessible observation place in the world.

The elevators get you to the top quite quickly. The day we were there was rather hazy, so the view wasn't as good as it could have been, but it was rather neat being above everything. The Observation level has a Glass Floor in one section where you can walk out and look straight down. Lise avoided it. The girls and I walked right out onto it. The girls got down on their hands and knees and pressed their faces right into the glass - "looking out the window" is what they called it. And then we went to the SkyPod - up even higher.

We had lunch at the food place at the base of the tower and bought a few things in the gift shop. Lise wanted to visit Eaton Center (a shopping mall) that she had been to before. So we rode the subway again, walked around, had a snack, and caught the subway back to the mall. Dinner was at the Rainforest Cafe in the mall - the girls liked it.

There is so much more in Toronto to do than what we did; we'll have to plan a trip back someday. We got back to the condo at a suitably late hour.


Friday

Friday was a hang out and start to pack day. We drove around a bit, went to the outdoor pool for the last time, and tried to eat all the food that was left.


Saturday

We got out in good time and began the three hour drive to Niagara Falls. I didn't tell the girls what we were going to, so when they saw it for the first time, they were suitably impressed. Lise had never seen them before, and she enjoyed it also. The best views are from the Canadian side. We parked near the Canadian Falls and walked around a bit and ate lunch at the place there. It was a very hot day (as had been the previously three days), and 3/4 of the crew didn't feel like walking too much. So we drove up to the Floral Clock, had an ice cream, and looked for the way back to the US. Getting back in was easy too - let's see your ID, where were you, what are you bringing back in.

We drove to the American city of Niagara Falls, and there's quite a difference from the Canadian side. Most things are run down or never got off the ground. It's nicest right around the Falls state park. We took the Maid of the Mist boat ride from there. The American side is where to catch the ride. The Canadian boats are bigger and not as nice and the wait in line is much longer. We walked in, took the elevator down, and walked right on to the boat. The American boats also get just a little bit closer to the falls. Everyone got appropriately wet, and the girls loved it. At one point, I looked to the left and right and saw both sides of the Horseshoe Falls. It was quite impressive.

We left the Falls area and started heading for our hotel, stopping for supper at a family restaurant in NY that served good Greek food.


Sunday

We drove about 45 minutes to Erie and attended church where we have been many times before. It's to the point that people that I sort of recognize say to us "my how the girls have grown." After the service, we had lunch with our friends the Dunsworths at their house. Ray made burgers and hotdogs. They have five children, and one is a few months older than the girls. They all had fun.

We arrived back home about 6:15 from Erie, had subs that we picked up on the way, unpacked, and went to bed.

There's probably things that I forgot, like dealing with the money. At times we had pockets full of loonies and toonies. There's also lots that we didn't do. But that leaves the possibility open for a return trip. Wasaga Beach, near Collingwood, is supposed to be the longest stretch of unbroken freshwater beach in the world (13 miles). There's more to do in Toronto (including a place called the Frank Castle), and more to do in Niagara Falls (like walking behind the falls). Maybe someday, as E. would say.

That's all for now. Pictures will come.

~ Byron

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Outdoor Computing

Sunday, August 14, 2005 @ 08:49 PM

I wish I had a decent microphone - better than the little one built into an IBM laptop.

Then I'd be able to get a good recording of what I'm hearing right now.

Every year in August, we get what I call the "summer bugs." It's how I know it's August. We have crickets, and I suppose there's grasshoppers and locusts and who knows what else out here. Some chirp, some give off a constant hum. If you sit and think about it and listen long enough, it's enough to drive you crazy.

I have the laptop from work, a good battery, and we have a wireless router. So after the girls were put to bed, I came out to the yard to clean up the goodies they left lying around (play yard tools and a beach ball), and I brought my laptop with me.

Right now, it's mostly dark. The sun went down about half an hour ago, and the cloudy sky still has a light grayish hue. I can make out the outline of trees against the sky, but I can barely see across the yard. It was humid today, and that seems to bring out the fireflies more. Or lightning bugs, if you prefer. And here I am with a computer, sitting in a lounge chair, enjoying all the noise.

Ah - technology! Ah - country!

Tomorrow, I will really find out what it means to get the bugs out of my computer.

- Byron

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New Story Added

Wednesday, July 20, 2005 @ 09:48 PM

One new story has been added to the stories page.

- Byron

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Yes, we're still here

Wednesday, July 20, 2005 @ 09:39 PM

It's time to start a new set. The earlier posts are still available as archives.

- Byron

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Last Updated on 7/20/2005