Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Cold Steel

I’ve never been a big shaving fan. However, over the decades I have grown accustom to it. There is something wrong with waking up in the morning, being groggy, and pulling a piece of cold steel across your throat.

Early in 2005, I wrote about my frustration with spaghetti sauce. You can read about it here. Now it seems that even shaving is going down that path.

Yesterday I was at the pharmacy of one of those large discount stores. I thought while there it would be a good time to get more razor blades. Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? Well, you cannot believe the number of blades they are putting on razors these days. When I started shaving, we had a razor with a blade. That's it - one blade. I spilled a lot of blood with that razor.

Then all the changes started. First, we had the Plus razor. This was a nice little single bladed razor with a conditioning strip. The purpose of that conditioning strip was to give you a cleaner, closer shave. I never was able to figure out if that conditioning strip worked but hey, like I said it was morning and most likely I was still half asleep.

Then things began to take off. The Trac II was introduced. A razor with two blades. The Sensor 3 followed. That’s right, a three bladed razor. This was when I thought razors had maxed out and this would be the end so I bought one. Evidently, a lot of other people did too. This must have made all the marketers rejoice and proclaim, “Hey if they like three blades they’ll love four!” Hence, the Quattro 4, a four bladed razor was unveiled. I'm sure this caused a great deal of fanfare somewhere. But, yesterday, there it was - the latest and greatest. A five-blade razor with of all things, that stupid conditioning strip! It's called Fusion.

Nathan, my son, was with me and even he was amazed. He too remembered when three blades was a big deal. He’s not that old, things shouldn’t change this fast.

So, I have to make a decision. Do I just quit shaving altogether or do I start going to the gym and working out so I’ll be ready to drag a razor with twenty blades and, of course, a conditioning strip across my throat first thing in the morning?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Southeast Colorado

I spent much of last week in southeast Colorado in the towns of LaJunta and Springfield. This part of Colorado is rich in history and places to visit such as Bent’s Fort and the controversial Sand Creek Massacre site. But, I had no time to see them. I was in windowless meeting rooms most of the time.

I did learn the pickle factory in LaJunta would be shutting down. This factory was started in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s, no one was exactly sure when. It was locally owned and survived through good times and bad. Two years ago, a national corporation bought it. A business that was locally ran and operated for over 70 years will shut down on Monday. A 140 people will wake up on Monday with nowhere to work because a national corporation bought it. Doesn’t seem right does it?

During the day, I was in meetings but in the evenings, the people I was with took me to some interesting restaurants. One was El Rincon, a unique Mexican restaurant. I looked at the menu and there was a dish I had never hear of – anywhere. It was called the ‘Mexican Slopper’. I had to try it. It was a flour tortilla, with a layer of meat, a layer of beans, a layer of guacamole, smothered in green chili. It was good but when I make it, it will be topped with tomatoes and have a side of sour cream.

The next night we ate at a restaurant called the Hog’s Breath. No kidding. Why anyone would name a restaurant that is beyond me but they did. The menu looked good. They had hamburgers, steaks, many fish dishes, a few Italian dishes, and several salads. The conversation with the local people went something like this:

Me: They have a lot fish here. How’s the salmon?
Them: I’d recommend a hamburger or steak.
Me: Those salads look interesting.
Them: I’d get a hamburger or a steak.
Me: That pasta dish sounds good.
Them: Get a hamburger or steak.

I got a hamburger.

Now at least I know where and what to eat. Maybe next time I'll see some of the sights.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

We Have Clearance

Earlier this month I wrote about being bought by a jar of blackberry preserves. Char is okay with me going on this week long, five hundred mile bike ride. Yesterday I met with my new state director. He not only supports the idea but also seemed quite excited about it. The map shows the route we will be taking. You can click on the map to enlarge it.

Day 1: Thunder Bay, ON to Grand Marais, MN. 75 miles.
Day 2: Grand Marais, MN to Duluth, MN. 105 miles.
Day 3: Duluth, MN to Bayfield, WI. 85 miles.
Day 4: Bayfield, WI to Hayward, WI. 70 miles.
Day 5: Hayward, WI to Hinckley, MN. 87 miles.
Day 6: Hinckley, MN to St. Paul, MN. 75 miles.
Day 7: St. Paul, MN to Minneapolis, MN. 25 miles.

So, with the blessing from both bosses I guess I had better get busy. There are a lot more hurdles but I'll write about those later.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Morning After

The sun still rose in Colorado. It was even blue and orange – Bronco colors. That’s a good thing because now the big talk is “wait until next year”.

Well, at least the food was good.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Big Day in Denver

Today is the big day – the AFC championship playoff game between the Denver Broncos and the Steelers. I’m not a big football fan. I don’t even know what AFC stands for. I just know the winner of today’s game goes to the Superbowl.

I am really looking forward to the game. I have it all planned out. We’ll have two types of hot wings, mini corn dogs, grilled buffalo burgers, a veggie tray, a few tacos and tostados, chips and dip, ice tea and other assorted beverages.

We will most likely have leftovers. It’s just Char and I.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Flat Tires

I stopped and changed a flat tire for a lady on the interstate earlier this week. While taking off the third or fourth lug nut, I started chuckling. This lady didn’t know me so I am sure she was having second thoughts. I mean here is a stranger, with a tire iron in his hand, laughing. I spoke up and told her I was thinking about my last flat tire.

My last flat tire happened in a cornfield in Nebraska. I told her I was trying to help a friend harvest corn. My task was to drive the tractor that pulled the corn trailer. I would drive next to the combine and when the trailer was full go and unloaded it into a semi truck.

On one trip, I noticed the tractor was moving rather slowly so I shifted to a lower gear. It helped a little but not that much so I shifted down once more. It was better but not great. It was about this time I noticed the tractor was leaning. It wasn't bad but it was a lean I hadn't experienced before. I thought it must have been the field; we had only been in this particular field a short time. That is also when I glanced in the mirror and noticed the combine racing across the field trying to catch me. I stopped, got out and saw this.

I told her, “Now, these are not normal tires. These are thirty-two ply airplane tires. Airplanes take off and land on these tires. The only time they go flat is when - well . . . when I get around them”

Now she was laughing. The tire was changed and everything was put away when she grabbed my hand and shook it rather enthusiastically while thanking me. As she opened her car door, she turned and said, “I don’t which I’m most thankful for – you changing the tire or the entertainment!” And with that, she was on her way down the interstate.

I don’t remember that day and that flat tire being nearly as funny. I’m sure Cliff didn’t either.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Fire and Ice

In 2005, wildfires burnt 14,446 acres in Colorado. Last week wildfires burnt 7,400 acres. It’s only the middle of January!

I took this picture last week. It shows part of a 2,700-acre fire that was eleven miles from our house. One hundred homes were evacuated at 1:00 o’clock in the morning. Fortunately, none were destroyed.

At the same time, fifty miles away, at a much higher elevation, they closed the interstate highway because of blizzard conditions.

It’s been a weird year.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


If you take Highway 17 from Villa Grove to Salida, you will pass the Colorado Sand Dunes. You’ll also see two things you might find strange for Colorado. One is an Alligator Farm. Colorado and alligators just don’t seem to go together.

The other is a UFO observation tower. For whatever reason the San Luis Valley has more unexplained UFO sighting than anywhere else in the state.

Private individuals built this observation tower but it is open to the public. They even have a website. On a recent road trip, I stop to see it.

While I didn’t see any UFO’s I did meet some unique individuals. They weren’t very talkative. However, they did tell me about the time the made the front page of the National Enquirer for their visit with President Clinton.

Friday, January 13, 2006


A young lady walked in my office and threw herself into one of the chairs. She looked at me and blurted out, “Ralph, why is it when women wear leather clothing middle age men go crazy? Their heart begins to race, their throat becomes dry, they drool, and they think and speak irrationally?”

I decided she was old enough to handle the truth. “Well, that’s easy” I said. “It’s because they smells like a new pickup truck.”

Okay . . . that was a joke.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Do the Math

I’ve done the math by hand, then I doubled checked it with a calculator. I’ve even listed the years - one by one. I know how old she is but I’m not telling.

January 12 is Char’s birthday!

I’ll take her out for a glass of wine.

She doesn’t need anymore animals – she has the dog and I.

I’d prefer you not get her any more guns . . .

. . . or carving sets.

So if you would – just wish her a Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday Char!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Soup's On

I learned something this past weekend. The old adage, “if a little is good a lot must be better” does not apply to lemon juice.

Earlier in January, Rhodent posted a recipe for Chicken Lemon Soup. I made it this past weekend. I followed her directions - no ready-made broth and used fresh squeezed lemon juice. For vegetables a few carrots, some celery, an onion, and mushrooms were added. Since I never had this soup before I wasn’t sure how it should taste.

I overdosed on the lemon juice. I used six large lemons. The biggest, juiciest lemons I could fine. I made sure each one was squeezed a couple of times to get all the juice possible. I ended up with a little over a cup of lemon juice out of those badboys. Then I dumped it all in and let it simmer for a few minutes.

That first bite really caught me off guard. I sat there all puckered up. It had quite a tang to it. I ate the first bowl not knowing if I liked it or not. I went back and read the recipe again. Nowhere did Rhodent talk about using the biggest lemons possible. She did say, “You may need to adjust the amount of lemon juice to your own taste.”

I diluted it down with a little more stock and tried a second bowl. It was better. Next time I might start with three medium lemons and work up from there.

Give it a try. Just remember - you may need to adjust the amount of lemon juice to your own taste.

Monday, January 09, 2006

In Defense of Cliff

I posted a larger version of this picture yesterday. Cliff and I have a lot of fun together and at each other’s expense from time to time. But, I need to step up and defend Cliff here. The look on his face has nothing to do with margaritas. That glass in front of him held ice tea.

There were at least twenty people sitting at that table. When that sombrero was placed on his head, ten cameras suddenly appeared. To make matters worse there wasn’t that much room around the table so people were lining up to take pictures. That is a look of shock and dismay.

But, you still have to admit it’s a good picture.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A Man of Many Hats

About twenty people went out for a nice Italian meal. Everyone was happy except one person. He wanted Mexican food. Study the picture and see if you can figure out who the disgruntled diner was. Give me your best guess. If all else fails just click here for the correct answer.

Okay . . . we all went to a Mexican restaurant. But, you have to admit it’s a good picture.

Friday, January 06, 2006


I like going to other blog sites, reading them, and leaving comments. I also really appreciate it when people visit my site and leave a comment. It’s amazing how many people visit but never leave a comment. When time permits, I also try to respond to the comments left on Homespun Headlines. It’s fun. But, a comment on yesterdays post about fonts caused me to pause. It reads:

Anonymous said. . .
I hate times new roman but I really don’t have enough time to fool with symbols. Your e-mail buddy needs to get a job! Love, A technology teacher

I am fairly certain I know this technology teacher. In fact, I am fairly certain I'm married to her. So, I started to replied, “Thanks honey. I love you too. We’ll talk about times new roman later”. Suddenly I had a chilling thought – what if it wasn’t my wife? I mean there are a lot of technology teachers out there.

NOTE TO SELF: In situations like this a simple ‘thanks’ will do.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


I'm amazed how many different fonts are starting to show up. Maybe they have always been there and I just didn’t know it. I am in a rut with Times New Roman. I thought I was a really being a rebel when I had my e-mail font changed to Bookman Old Style. The only reason I did it was I liked the name. This font thing is getting a little out of hand.

Today I received an e-mail I could not read. I looked at it, I studied it, I even enlarged it, but I could not make it out. It read something like this 732j #$^%$# n*((&$ % ***. From the header on the e-mail I realized I knew the person and it should have been a legitimate e-mail. So, I called her. She told me she had switched over to using a font called symbol and the easiest way to read it was to copy it, paste it in a word document and switch it to a font of my choice. She also said she thought it would “fun” if everyone used it. I sent her back an e-mail in the symbol font telling her to take me off her mailing list – or, at least that’s what I think I typed. I later found out three other people asked to be removed as well.

Is it just me or is there a lot of people with way too much #$%^& extra time on their hands?

Monday, January 02, 2006

Blackberry Preserves

When I got home, there was a package on the table. I knew who sent it. Three times, we had done a bike ride that raises money for tree research and planting. Inside was a jar of blackberry preserves and a hand written note. The note said he needed my help and he wanted me to do the bike ride again in 2006. I read the note again.

The 2006 ride starts in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and conclude 550 miles later in Minneapolis. I will have to raise a minimum of $3,500. This means I have to start sending out letters to businesses and groups asking for their support. It also means I better start training. I haven’t ridden my bike since last August.

No – was going through my mind. That’s a lot of asking for money and a lot of training. I looked at the preserve and read the note for a third time stopping at the part that said, “I need your help” – well heck, it’s only 550 miles.

Better dust off the bike.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


For whatever reason, I kept track of how many miles I traveled in 2005. I used the odometer on the various cars to measure the miles driven, a pedometer in my pocket to track the miles walked, and a cyclometer on my bike to record the miles pedaled. All told, I traveled 40,544 miles in 2005.

Flying: O miles. I am not a big airplane fan so this didn’t bother me at all.
Driving: 38,243 miles. This included work related activities as well as some great road trips.
Biking: 838 miles. This was mainly training for Ride the Rockies that happened in June.
Walking: 1,463 miles. Just in cause you’re wondering, that is 3,543,148 steps. An average of 9,707 steps a day.

Well, that was 2005. Those miles held many great memories.

It is now 2006. The question is how many miles will be traveled this year, where will they take you, and what new experiences will you have?

Happy New Year – enjoy the miles.