Whalechaser's Musings

No Matter Where You Go...
There You Are
Make the Best of It

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Retirement Puzzlers

Okay...I am retired now for better than half a year and I have a few questions.

Take today for example, we are threatened with a show-stopping snow; is one entitled to a snow day when they are retired? If so...How do you report it?

Then of course there is the question about vacation days...but that would imply my working today to figure it out and I can't. I'm retired.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Election Humor

While walking down the street one day a US senator is tragically hit by
a truck and dies.

His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

"Welcome to heaven," says St. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems
there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you
see, so we're not sure what to do with you."

"No problem, just let me in," says the man.

"Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is
have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity."

"Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven," says the senator.

"I'm sorry, but we have our rules."

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down,
down, down to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle
of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him,
shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.

They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly guy who has a
good time dancing and telling joke s. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises...

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on h eaven where St Peter is waiting for him.

"Now it's time to visit heaven."

So, 24 hours pass with the senator joining a group of contented souls

moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a

good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St.

Peter returns.

"Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity."

The senator reflects for a minute, then he answers: "Well, I would

never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I

would be better off in hell."

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.

Now the doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren

land covered with waste and garbage.

He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and

putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above. The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder.

"I don't understand," stammers the senator. "Yesterday I was here and

there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?"

The devil looks at him, smiles and says, "Yesterday we were campaigning...... Today you voted."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fayetteville Activities

We took advantage of the great 60 degree weather this morning and rode 10 plus miles in the connecting development areas in West Fayetteville and discoverd Clabber Creek bike path which was opened late last year. It runs about 0.8 miles.

After that we went on top of Mt Sequoyah and hiked a short (but up and down)1.5 miles there just as the weather began to change dramatically. We knew it was time to get inside and quick.

So we went to Olive Garden for lunch and just in time too...it got incredibly windy and the temps dropped like a rock. We started the day at 65 and after lunch it was snowing and 31 degrees. Fortunately these kinds of days don't happen too often.
So lunch was great as expected.
I ordered the Chicken Scampi with angel hair and tons of salad.
See for yourself!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Seared Salmon

Today I tried a new marinade that I had received as a Christmas gift, on four salmon fillets. Since the fillets were wild salmon, which is a little gamier than farmed salmon, I thought the three chili, citrus Yucatan marinade might be just the thing to smooth out the dish.

I was right! It was superb! I also made a tossed spring lettuce salad and some brown rice with Bulgar as a side dish.

Latex Gloves

A dentist noticed that his next patient, a little old lady, was
nervous so he decided to tell her a little joke as he put on his

'Do you know how they make these gloves?' he asked.

'No, I don't,' she replied.

'Well,' he spoofed, 'there's a building in Canada with a big tank
of latex and workers of all hand sizes walk up to the tank, dip in
their hands, let them dry, then peel off the gloves and throw them
into boxes of the right size.'

She didn't crack a smile.

'Oh, well. I tried,' he thought.

But five minutes later, during a delicate portion of the procedure,
she bursts out laughing.

'What's so funny?' he asked

'I was just envisioning how condoms are made!'

Gotta watch those little old ladies! Their minds are always

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lost Bridge Park North Branch of the Trail

We went out in the overcast and fog to find Beaver Lake and Lost Bridge Park today. Just as we pulled in to the trailhead, the clouds cleared and we were blessed with a beautiful blue sky and warmer weather for our 5 miler around the various "fingers" of Beaver Lake today. It took us 2.5 hours to do the entire trail, which was a little longer than I expected but there was some up and down to slow us a bit more than usual.

The water a Beaver Lake is crystal clear and the trail was all ours today. I am happy to report that the trails are pristine and spotless here in Arkansas. It seems each one is nicer or at least different from any of the previous ones.

The distance was just enough for me today; I guess I am still recuperating from the 8.5 miles from Wednesday.

We then drove on a little further to see the Beaver Bridge---One Lane across the appendage of Beaver Lake. I just love this bridge!

We stopped at Applebys for an early dinner and I was dreaming of a nice fresh cup of coffee...sadly the machine was broken and there was none to be had there! So, maybe next time. But it would have been a nice prelude to the dinner.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

8.5 miles in Hobbs State Park Conservation Area

Today we pushed it a bit. We drove out to Hobbs State Park Conservation Area and while there are several trails to hike, we decided on the Pigeon Roost Trail. It is made up of two overlapping loops which if done in a sort of figure eight, you can do 8.5 miles. roughly 4 for each loop if you opt only for one of them.
We finished the first one and I was feeling great, so we went on for the second. The last mile and a half seemed forever, but we finally made it. My legs were like lead weights at the end and even worse once I got home. Happily, the following day I was OK without any discomfort from the hike.
Here is the trailhead beginning, it was downhill and easy to forget that at the end it would be all uphill...
interesting growths on a downed tree
A view of Beaver Lake from the trail with bluffs in the background

I like to think that means I am getting back in shape!

A pamphlet I picked up from the area gave a bit of history and I found that the park was centered around the Peter Van Winkle industrial mill complex; this saw mill provided the lumber for most of the homes in northwest Arkansas as well as for Old Main at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas!

We stopped at a KFC Buffet for late lunch/early dinner I was eating everything in sight! Ravenous doesn't begin to describe my state of mind. But it was all good and somehow I think I did not destroy all the good from the hike with the food from KFC! At least I had NO dessert, so that counts for something.

Drug Test

Thanks go to Darlene for this one. I agree totally.

URINE TEST (I sure would like to know who wrote this one! They deserve a HUGE pat on the back! This one has been around for awhile but it is still good reading.)


Like a lot of folks in this state, I have a job. I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random urine test with which I have no problem.

What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don't have to pass a urine test. Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them?

Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on their BUTT, doing drugs, while I work. Can you imagine how much money the state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check ?

My note:
Well maybe the State wouldn't save anything because they would have to redirect the funds for drug rehabilitation, but still it would be for something more positive.

Linguine with Shrimp and Garlic

The title is so plain..if I were writing a cookbook I think I would call it Sorrento Shrimp Linguine or something like that. Anyway, we were iced in here yesterday and I got the cooking bug. After spending just a few minutes in my cookbook library I came up with the following recipe that is really quite good and very easy to make. first the pictures and then the recipe...

1 Lb pasta..thin preferably angel hair or linguine

1/4 cup of virgin olive oil (this should be good quality since it adds much flavor to the whole dish)

4 cloves of garlic (or more to taste) chopped

the zest of one lemon

the juice of one lemon separated from the zest. about 1/4 cup

1/4 cup of parsley chopped small

Reserve 1/2 to 1 cup of pasta water

Boil the water for the pasta and start cooking it. The rest of the dish takes about 3 minutes to make. When the pasta is almost ready

Heat in a large braising type pot, the 1/4 cup of olive oil, when just hot add the garlic until it starts to soften then add the shrimp, lemon zest and saute for a minute or two until the shrimp are no longer translucent, add the lemon juice and keep heating through, stirring all the time. Add salt and pepper to taste at this point.

When the pasta is done, RESERVE 1/2 to 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the rest.
Place the drained pasta in the braising pot with the garlic and lemon, tossing lightly add a half cup of pasta water, more to taste, there should be a light liquid-y sauce. Add the chopped parsley and toss again. Finished.

Divide into four servings, pour some white wine and enjoy. True Italians would never add Parmesan cheese to a fish dish, but I say go ahead, it tastes great. )I'm Polish...what do I know??!!)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Put this one in your dictionary

Electile Dysfunction : the inability to become aroused over any of the choices for president put forth by either party in the 2008 election year.

(Yes, I know you read it first as erectile dysfunction...welcome back)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Once again

We walked the Lake Fayetteville trail again today...in the other direction. This time we made it in one hour and forty minutes, shorter than the last time.

There was one casualty though...Mr. Vole

And, we did see a beautiful woodpecker.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park - Arkansas

Today we braved the colder weather and went to the Prairie Grove Battlefield; we went in the visitors center where they have a small museum and a 12 minute film, all quite informative about the battles that took place here. Interestingly enough I found that there are several Confederate flags so naturally I had to get a couple of shots of those, just because...

Here is a picture of the inside of an Officer's tent...there was a letter in front of the display indicating to his mother that he had almost all the comforts of home and that she shouldn't worry about his well-being.
This is the First Confederate flag
This is the Second Confederate flag
This is the Third and final Confederate flag

After we got the general idea, we walked the one mile loop through a section of the battlefield and then took the car tour for roughly five miles. I am beginning to get a better understanding of the history of the area. Now that I have lived in several places, I can say with some actual basis that each area of the country will include more historical information about the immediate area than the nation as a whole. So getting to these points of interest around the country and here are helping me to understand our history a little better. I still don't understand war though.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Bucket Line

This was actually a first for me in so many ways...

First, we had our first visit to the new Malco Theater in Fayetteville with STADIUM SEATING!!!!! YEAH!!!

Second, I guess because it is new and there are some good films here almost all the seats were gone for the first seating on Saturday, but we managed to get two together in the last row. Actually two other films were sold out. That is not a phrase I have heard lately.

Third, the film was VERY WELL DONE and I would recommend it highly to anyone; especially if you are a little depressed or sad with your life. This film sort of grabs you by the shoulders and says...go out and live! And when you leave you feel great just being alive.

Yes, very well worth the time to see it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

National Military Park: Pea Ridge

Today we drove to Pea Ridge to hike the 5 plus miles of trails through the Pea Ridge Battlefields. Earlier this year I rode the car route on my bike, which was quite strenuous since there are a couple of pretty steep hills, but the horse trails (which is what we walked today) were laid out a bit differently so didn't have to do much climbing. The walk and the views were very serene. We saw 10 deer and several blue birds. It is nice to see nature alive and well all around us.

I didn't take many pictures of the battlefields, since I did that the last time. So here are a few of Chuck that I took along the way. We both enjoyed the high 50 degree weather and the quietness of the forest and the open grasslands.

Along the way we came upon a marker for the Trail of Tears for the Cherokee Indians. So it appears this area brought hardship for both the indians and the 'newly' settled white man as well. When will we stop doing this to ourselves?

After our walk we went to Las Palmas a terrific Mexican place on the way home. The food was delicious!

I ordered the lunch sized chicken chimichanga..a perfect size.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wal-Mart,Tanyard Creek Nature Trail and More...

We took advantage of the beautiful weather to ride up to Bentonville. The first thing we did was to stop at Station Cafe for lunch. It was my second visit there and I discovered some new stuff on this trip. Their sides are a bit unusual. I was sure there was at least one mistake in the list: how could layer cake be a 'side'? Double click the photo below to see other unusual items that qualify. Well it was! and good too!

See right in between the steak tips in mushroom and onion gravy and my chili cheddar cheeseburger is a huge hunk of chocolate layer cake...enough for two!

Then it was on to the first WalMart store which is now converted to a memorial to Sam the Man and all his supporters from the beginning. I just love going to this place. He came from nothing worked hard, and stayed a nice guy all the way to the end. A true American Success Story. I always get a warm fuzzy when I go there.

The photo above is a tribute to the early efforts of Sam...the store was not a place to be held in high regard, but from it he grew the business to a spectacular success.

There was still some time left so we went up to Bella Vista to Tanyard Creek Nature Trail. This is a neat place that has several waterfalls and lots and lots of labelled plants and trees...I suspect it is spectacular in the spring time. We will definately try and get back before too long.

Lafe Fayetteville and Backyard Burgers

After completing the filing cabinet project we headed out into 50 plus degree temperatures for a 5 mile hike around Lake Fayetteville. It felt good to get out and move again and the sun was a welcomed guest as well. Towards the end I found I was sweating a little, but that is to be expected with the activity and the sunshine.

The lake was wonderfully clear and the trails only slightly muddy.

Part of the trail is macadem and great for "prissy" walking and riding the rest is single track over roots, ruts and rocks...not for the faint of heart!

The last time I was here I saw people throwing frisbees toward suspended baskets.. I thought it was interesting to have a target. Today I discovered it is something called disc golf!!!! Yes there is an entire course for just this purpose.

Here is a sign for the ninth hole!
I REALLY need to get out more. And maybe buy myself a frisbee or two!

We stopped for lunch at Backyard Burgers and stuffed ourselves as usual. They were great and the people that worked there were very helpful and sociable making it a very nice visit!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Home Do-It-Yourself Project

Today after deciding that I really needed some filing cabinet space, Chuck graciously agreed to assemble a beautiful looking chestnut finish 2 drawer cabinet for the computer room. When they said you have to do it yourself, I thought they meant put the handles on and stuff like that.
But no...they meant the drawers, the cabinet and even the side gliders. All needed to be assembled. Yuck!

But Chuck being the guy he is, did it all by himself. If it were me it would have been firewood long ago!
Here is the finished product, beautiful.

A Happy Woman

Thanks go to Melissa...


A woman in her fifties is at home, unclothed, happily jumping on her
bed and squealing with delight.

Her husband watches her for a while and asks, "Do you have any idea how
ridiculous you look? What's the matter with you?"

The woman continues to bounce on the bed and says, "I don't care what
you think. I just came from having a mammogram, and the doctor says that
not only am I healthy, but I have the breasts of an 18 year-old.

The husband replies,
"What did he say about your 55-year old ass?"

"Your name never came up," she replied

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Homemade Pizza

Chuck is arriving later on today and I was going to make Lasagna, but he said that since he did not know when he would actually get here I should not plan on making it today. So instead, I decided to make pizza. It is easy enough since I am home anyway and can "punch down" the dough during the day and then make it whenever he shows up.

I made my personal favorite bacon, three cheese, mushroom and peppers!

Below is a series of shots from beginning to end...believe it or not, it was really fun to do.

It must have been okay 'cause there wasn't much left when we were finished!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Casablanca...A Few Great Lines

I watched Casablanca last night. This is one film that just keeps getting better and better. Eventually, one becomes a 'line' aficionado.

Here are some of my favorites (I may have to watch it AGAIN!):

If she can stand it
I can
Play it

Your secret will be safe with me

Just like any other man, only more so

Round up the usual suspects

Honest? Honest as the day is long (not)

Just a lucky guy

We will be there at 6....I will be there at 10

about the Cafe Americain...But I've no excuse to close it
Find one

Monsieur - I'm shocked...shocked to find there is gambling going on here

Major Strassa has been shot...round up the usual suspects!

and finally

Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Chicken 'n Dumplins

Today I was wondering how to cook a chicken that had defrosted. Fried, stewed, baked, broiled....hummnn. Then in true "palm to the forehead" fashion it hit me: chicken 'n dumplins -- this would the favorite meal of my childhood. YES!!!!

So I had everything out and ready to go and realized that I did not have the recipe that my cousin had dictated some 5 years ago at her place. I searched and searched through all my loose recipes, but to no avail.

I had to call her to get it again.

Fortunately, she was willing to share...again!

So, now with recipe in hand I pulled out my pasta maker and there it was sitting nicely by the hand crank just waiting for me. Anyway, once I do a recipe I start playing with it and my finished product is a bit different. BUT still delicious!

Here's the picture,

I have to go now, because the entire house smells so good I could just start chewing on anything nearby!

Finally...a Resolution I Can Handle

Several major studies have found that light to moderate drinking -- up to two drinks a day on a regular basis -- is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and some have also found this leads to a lower risk of some cancers.

Non-drinkers had a 30 percent to 31 percent higher risk of heart disease compared to moderate drinkers, no matter the amount of physical activity they undertook. Moderate consumption was defined as between 1 to 14 drinks per week.

I need to know WHO ran this study!