Friday, May 15, 2015

Okinawa!

Konnichi wa!
We are in Okinawa enjoying ourselves. Daughter #2 and her Marine husband are living here for another 1 1/2 years so we came to visit. The travel here was fairly uneventful. We made a mistake in terminals at LAX but had plenty of time for correction. I think that the US airports and airlines could take lessons from the Japanese on courtesy and helpfulness. Immigration and customs involved the a wait in line but it wasn't bad as it was only about 15 minutes. They were well staffed to move the crowd through. I remember waiting well over an hour in Santiago for the two rude men to process everyone.

We left the 11th and arrived the night of the 12th as Okinawa is 14 hours ahead of AZ. Our return is on the 25th, so we will arrive the same day. Our daughter wanted us to stay with them as they have an extra bedroom in their dwelling at Camp Foster. Mama and I we pretty tired from the travel but it quite nice to have someone pick you up.
We stopped at CoCo Ichibanya (Japanese curry house) in Chatan for some carry out on the way to the base. You can get your curry with a heat level rated 1 through 10. I was warned to try a lower number so I ordered #3 heat. The 24 hour temporary passes we needed were obtained on the way onto base. Once we unloaded every, we had a nice meal. Spicy! Glad I did not order a number 7 even though I like hot food.

The first day we went over to get our real visitor passes and stocked up the pantry by going to the Commissary and then offsite to a local grocery store (San-A). I spent time gawking around at the myriad of things I haven't seen before just like typical tourists then returned and just visited as we haven't seen out daughter in about a year and a half. I will have to find someone that can read Japanese to find out what this says.

It was in the section that looked like sake and tasted like sake. This department/grocery store had everything including a 100 yen section (think dollar store). I picked up a few veggies that I had no idea what they were along with recognizable stuff. I have a book on Japanese vegetables. Now I had to actually look at it!
The same goes for books on Japanese for Dummies and Japanese Phrases which I did not time have to look at prior to departure. The usual guesses at what the veggies were turned out to be pretty close. So we did not pick up something thinking that it was dragon fruit and find out it was some stinky ole thing.
This store had very little in English so you were on your own.

Day two was still pretty laid back as far as the tourist things went as Mama was petty tired, probably with a little jet lag. So she slept in while I set my alarm figuring that I will get on local time asap. A late lunch was procured at Sushi Go Round, a local restaurant where the food comes around on a conveyor. If you see something you want to try, just take it off the belt and go for it. Your bill is totaled up by the color of the plate.
Note the one plate sitting on top of a bowl. That is something that someone ordered special and you should not take it.

You use the touch screen to order drinks and special items. Drinks and soup are the only thing delivered by a waiter/waitress.

I started with a clam miso soup that was very good and had the best salmon and tuna ever. I tried a few other items and all was good except I have never developed a tasted for the bean past stuff (aside from miso) and probably won't. We spent two hours their and were pretty full by the time we left. Most items on the belt had a leading placard with English subtitles if you couldn't figure it out. The touch screen for special ordering had language choice. The screen would announce when your special order was nearing so that you could watch for the plate on top of the bowl. Slick! This concept is of delivery by conveyor is not unusual.

Yes, there are a few plates there and they aren't mine. We left with the equivalent of a $50 bill for four people. Very inexpensive compared to the US.
There are some higher end shushi joints that are substantially more expensive.

Day three was a trip to the Southeast Botanical Gardens. I will post that separately as there a lot of nice photos to review.

I will probably be head bowing for a week after I get back as I have already gotten used to it.
Ja mata.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Diet of Nope, Part V

Woohoo! 112 pounds down!
I am at my target weight which is the good news. The bad news is that I should probably lose a few more pounds to be where I should really be at.
The Dr. Gann’s Diet of Hope group only counts weight that you have lost since you started their program so this means that their log shows an 87 pound loss. The other weight was lost prior to starting this program. It would be a shame not to go for another 13 pounds because then they could get all excited about having another person with a 100 pound loss and the BIG GOLD STAR to put up on the bulletin board with your initials on it. I phrase it that way as they do get excited about it and I go, meh. I love the weight loss and the program but a gold star, even a BIG one, does not represent anything to me. This additional loss would put me at 250 pounds. Keep in mind that I am 6’7” so this is a good weight.

I will then be able to start bringing in some carbs and other foods that I like. It also means that weighing yourself every day is still mandatory to ensure that you stay at a stable weight. I had a cold frosty beer the other night to celebrate and it really tasted good! I will save the other Lone Star in the fridge for final weight. Yes, I said Lone Star. You know, “The National Beer of Texas”. I will pick up some more when visiting daughter #1 in San Angelo.

Now for some food comments……

Salad Dressings
Salads are a big part of your diet and I like salads. However, only being allowed 1-2 tablespoons of light type dressings per 4 quart mixing bowl of salad does not hardly wet the lettuce. I am kidding as to the size as my lunch is only a one quart bowl. Ranch dressing is out while on the diet along with Thousand Island and most of the “thick” stuff. I found some dressings by Walden Farms that are zero calorie so that you can actually put enough on to wet all the pieces!
·       Balsamic Vinaigrette – Good
·       Asian – Good
·       Zesty Italian – Good
·       Bacon Ranch – How could you screw up something with bacon? Apparently easily, as you can’t taste any bacon and the white part is water thin with very little flavor. What flavor that is there bears no resemblance to ranch dressing.
·       Blue Cheese – See above. That was the end of trying anything that was “white or creamy”.
There are a couple I would try if I find them at the store. One would think that the Raspberry Vinaigrette and the Italian Sun Dried Tomato would be suitable. The rest of the so called low cal are not as advertised. Look at the labels and they are only marginally better than their regular counterpart.

Bread/Tortilla
White flour is considered a no-no (white poison) while on the diet and there is no bread that I have found that qualifies. By law, bread advertised as “whole grain” must be 50% whole grain. Guess what the other 50% is, white flour of course. Bread made without white flour becomes quite dense. I made some bread one time for backpacking that was 100% whole grains. They were made like the shape of a large cookie to make them easier to pack away. You could face-off on the ice a couple of times with one of these before it broke! JK, you could actually break them up alright. The taste was OK but the texture was like sticking your head in a grain bag and having a bite. Don’t ask how I know this but it does involve horses and older siblings/relatives. None of the breads I have seen are qualified during the diet. Bread will wait until final weight and then only as a treat.

Regular tortillas are off the diet but there are some of the lo-carb smart ones I tried as a Sunday treat. It doesn’t matter if you are looking at Mission or La Tortilla as they are equally bad.
·       Carb Smart Tortilla – Plasticized texture with no taste. They even feel like plastic. I was going to throw the bunch of them away after one bite but my better half insisted that they might be OK and she would try them. She threw them away after her taste test.
·       Carb Smart Multi-Grain Tortilla – Slightly better than the above ones. You’ve got to have something to dip in your Huevos Rancheros on Sunday morning. They still suck.
I will look forward to a real hand made one from St. Mary’s Tortilla Factory as a treat. You can’t beat a large tortilla that you can see through made with all the traditional ingredients.

Pasta
Same as bread in that this is off the diet. I have found that I do like having spaghetti made with spaghetti squash instead of pasta. This is on the diet once in a while. This is about the only squash aside from zucchini and summer squash that is allowed. I do not like zucchini. This is just a prolific overproducing weed that I learned to dislike growing up in MI. In peak season you had to lock your car doors so that someone didn’t fill up the back seat of your car trying to unload this stuff. We did not have much money growing up so my folks would view this as free food and we would be fed a steady diet while in season. I have had it prepared every way possible, I think, and do not care for this tasteless veggie. Did I mention that I don’t buy zucchini?

I make a spinach lasagna that actually turns out quite good. Substitute heavy layers of spinach for the lasagna and use about half the ricotta normally used and use a low fat one. Layer the spinach, ricotta, meat/sauce, and reduced fat mozzarella as you normally would. Drain that spinach as much as you can as you don’t need any added water. The spinach brings enough moisture on its own. Also make your meat sauce thick for the same reasons. If you do not do this, it will taste ok but it will be sloppy.

Potato
You are out of luck. Potatoes are off the diet. An occasion (once a week) portion of yam can be OK but that is as close as you will get.

Sugar-Free
Regular sugar is considered another white poison on this diet and SF substitutes are to be used in moderation. I learned to tolerate the yellow SF packets of sweetener but have never liked the pink and blue. Splenda (Sucralose) was an accidental discovery that took place while trying to find a new pesticide so the molecular structure looks more like bug poison than sugar. I try to use it in moderation as I believe that all of it is rat poison. I tried the all-natural one Stevia. It is only so-so but still better than the pink stuff.

Watch out for sugar alcohol in the ingredients list of so called sugar free foods. It is not listed in the nutritional data so you actually have to look at the ingredients. If you are diabetic, this stuff can still cause a blood sugar swing. Overuse of these can lead to bloating, diarrhea and GAS because they are not absorbed in the small intestine. Let you give you a tip. You really don’t need anything promoting diarrhea and crepitating while on this diet as you already can never trust a fart to be just gaseous. TMI?
Examples of sugar alcohol include Erythritol, Glycerol (also known as glycerin or glycerine), hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol.

I like black coffee but not all the time. It is sometimes nice with some of those flavored creamers. The good tasting ones have way too many calories in carbs.
·       Coffee–Mate Powdered Creamy Chocolate SF – Good but can only be used once in a while when still on the diet. Contains erthritol.
·       Coffee–Mate Powdered Vanilla SF – Good but same as above without the sugar alcohol.
·       Coffee–Mate Powdered Hazelnut SF - Ick.
·       Coffee–Mate Powdered Vanilla Caramel SF – Ick.
·       International Delight Liquid SF and FF Vanilla – I like it but my wife doesn’t like any of the International creamers.
·       International Delight Liquid SF and FF everything else – not so good.
·       Heavy Cream - Good but can only be used once in a while when still on the diet.

Butter
There is no substitute for real butter. I don’t normally like oleo and other petroleum distillates. The only thing that even approached the taste is the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. This is OK once in a while for some petroleum distillate.

Just don’t use so much of the real butter and enjoy the flavor.

Bacon
I can have a couple of slices of turkey bacon once a week. This I do not understand as turkey bacon has no dietary benefits above real bacon. You should go ahead and compare the two items for nutritional data. They are basically the same except that the data for turkey is two slices and for pork is four slices. I just have the regular bacon in moderation. Nope! You can’t have a ½ pound.

Salt
Another item to modify. All salt substitutes taste awful with most having a distinctly metallic taste. I suppose that you could get used to it but why? Unless you have a medical condition that says no salt, I would suggest that you severely limit your use of regular salt and at least get to enjoy a bit of the taste of the real thing.


I do not receive any remuneration, compensation or anything else from any company mentioned above. I doubt they would retain me after reading any of my evaluations anyways! Bon appetit! 

Monday, April 06, 2015

I Like Old 22s

I found another piece of history, or so I tell myself, to pick up and play with. A High Standard Sentinel R-103 is now mine. This is a double action 9 shot 22lr. It is calling me from the safe saying that we need to go out and shoot!

Happy Easter

I hope everyone had a nice Easter. My wife and I went to Tempe for the Western States Eastern Observance which was hosted by the Grand Commandery of Arizona and is a program promoted by the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar, USA.

The banquet on Saturday night was nice as we enjoyed visiting with everyone. The meal was typical banquet food, overpriced and so-so.

We mustered outside so that we could march into the service that was being done in the open courtyard. As you can see in the photos, some were in Class A uniforms while other were in Caps & Mantles. Arizona has the Cap & Mantle as the official uniform since the Class A suit is a bit hot to wear here.
The service was nicely done but it did have a few distractions. Tempe Mission Palms is close to the airport and we were right in the path. It was hard to hear when the jets went overhead every few minutes. There were some birds flying around and I was wondering what prevented them from swooping in and picking off a few ostrich feathers for their nests!

A good time was had by all!













Monday, March 16, 2015

Zombie Rounds

I look for inexpensive bullets to load for plinking and steel shoots. I ran across Lucky13 whose prices seemed good and shipping on cast bullets is included. Now the pricing was looking real good with shipping included. They are also putting up coated cast bullets. I ordered some to try for the 44 and got them to throw in a handful of 9mm to sample. Nice people to talk to. You have a choice of one color - Zombie 13!
Daughter #1 says - They look like poison tips. Daughter #2 says - Cool!
My wife says - they should come in purple.
They were nice to handle for reloading. These rounds also shot well. Time to order some for real.

I do not receive anything from Lucky13 (or anyone else for that matter) to do any reviews or comments.

Diet of Nope - Part IV

I continue on my merry way towards my target weight. The scale tells me that I am 100 pounds down now which means that I am 10 pounds away from my target weight! Now for the bad news. I don't think that the last ten pounds will be quite enough. Twenty more pounds to go!

Cruising the web for different foods to try can be interesting. I ran across one site that was more along the lines of things that you shouldn't eat. Did you know that processed baked goods ( can you say donut?) are bad for you? Wow, there is a real revelation. One would not think that it would be necessary to tell people that frosting, soda, donuts, bagels, sugary cereal, stick margarine etc are not great foods.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Blog Shoot

Thanks to Kevin for setting up the annual Blog Shoot and Wind Tunnel Firearms Test!
I showed up late at the Elsy Range in beautiful Casa Grande as it is still dark at 7 AM. There is enough difficulty getting through all my PT exercises and getting to work on time much less doing it on the weekend. Besides, it should be warmer later in the morning. I am only really motivated for early morning events like hunting, fishing, and the occasional steel shoot.
I arrived on site to see target stands being blown over and the cheerful clapping sound of the flapping targets caught up in the range fence. One did not have to worry whether the wind was going to blow or not as it seemed to be a steady wind about 10 to 15 mph with gusts that had to be in the 25 mph category.
The range was actually pretty busy with a bunch of hardy souls busily blaming the wind for the world's ills. Most of my time was spent with my hands in my pockets watching others shoot. This was fine as it was by my choice. Sometimes I would move into the sunlight to try to catch a few rays of warmth.
It is hard to not laugh when you watch someone go downrange to set a target back up, pile some small rock on the target base, admire their handy-work, get back on line, the range goes hot and the wind gusts up to blow the target over.
One shooter had the right idea. They brought some cloth bags with them and filled them with sand/rock at the range. These were heavy enough to serve as adequate target stand ballast. The wind, not to be outdone, really gusted up and ripped the target right off the stand. The target stand stands alone.
I finally did get around to shooting the EAA and Single Six prior to leaving but never did shoot a couple of rifles that were left safely out of the wind in my vehicle. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood regardless and it was nice to meet a couple of new people. It was a great morning!

Friday, January 09, 2015

Diet of Nope - Part III

I haven't kept up the rapid weight loss over the Holidays but I did continue to lose weight. Woohoo! I'm down 80 pounds. 30 more to go and then I will see if my target weight was correct. A document of diet foods that I like/dislike has been started and I will share this later. As with most thing, some items taste fine and other are beyond description but I will try. Often the items purchased are best described by the picture below.


Where Did Everybody Go?

I went out to the Crossroads of the West show on Jan. 3rd at the fairgrounds. Where were the vendors? It was a dismal show from my standpoint as the floor was probably about 60% occupied with a lot of the Ma & Pa tables being absent. I like to peruse the small vendor tables as that is where I get see some of the more interesting items and oddities. I really have no interest in looking a three vendor tables full of new Taurus weapons. That might just be me since I would not buy another Taurus anything.

My interest would fall more to seeing another S&W top break, H&R top break, Bernardelli Model 80, or many other items that are not in production anymore.

I am interested in a 410 derringer but Bond Arms derringers must be gold plated according to their pricing.  The only real interest here is to take it dove hunting and see if I can pick off one or two that come close by for bragging rights. "Heck, I don't even need a shotgun to get my limit. All I need is a derringer". I would carry it as a backup bug occasionally but $500 for a two shot?

The previous show in Tucson at the Expo Center was also pretty poor. Guess that I will have to head up to the next one that is held in Phoenix at the fairgrounds to get to a larger venue. Sounds like a road trip. Phx gunshow in the day and over to Bass Pro for some gator tail later!

Monday, January 05, 2015

I Like Christmas, I Like Cookies Too!

I found a great tree for Christmas!


We set it up, took a picture, sent it to our daughter and announced that we were cutting back this year. With both daughters being gone, it just wasn’t the same and I wasn’t in the mood. We took down the cute little tree, put it upstairs and proceeded to decorate. Here is my obligatory picture of decorated antlers.





I had a fun time this Christmas. Daughter #1 made it home to visit and that is always a pleasure. My wife and I tend to buy our own items for the other to present. She got a nice ring and I bought a gun safe. The safe was a screaming deal as one of my co-workers won it in a raffle and had no use for it.

We picked daughter #1 at the airport on Christmas Eve. I had special presents for everyone to open prior to going to service that evening. I informed them that I had contacted the church and they were in agreement for us to join in with their band for a number or two. They both viewed me with those skeptical glances that tell me that they know me too well.

My wife received a couple of slide whistles so that she could match the key of the songs. I believe that the wiener dog was her favorite.



Our daughter got the kazoo and tambourine. She is very talented at both but that is no surprise to me as she has always been able to walk and chew gum at the same time.




I could switch from the jaws harp to the spoons at a moment’s notice. The spoons were good but I think that the jaws harp was defective. I could not make any noise but some irritating twang come out of it




We played around, practiced and laughed a lot. When it came time to leave, I noticed that they did not seem to have their instruments with them. They refused to take them with them! I was sorely disappointed and tried to convince them that the church was depending on us but this was to no avail. The last song at service was very lively and our daughter leaned over and commented that she should have brought the tambourine.

I received some great presents but will not post any pictures of underwear or socks. Daughter #2 and son-in-law #1 got me a very nice replica knife along with a bowl. Let me know if you can translate.


They are currently in Okinawa and come up with some interesting items.












Daughter #1 got me a big candy cane while at Disney.











My wife got me a masonic square and compasses that folds to expose a dagger.










Santa brought me some gun oil made out of Liberal Tears – Now With Bacon! I don’t know how I could add anything more than what is on the bottle.
No not the bottle of Cholulu, the other one. Perhaps that is what makes their eyes tear.
















It was a fantastic Christmas!