Monday, December 10, 2007

10 Point Buck

Just got back from a great weekend of deer hunting in Southern Iowa. The first day out I managed to shoot 3 does. But the big salami came the following day, when I shot this beauty:

Not a bad deer for my first buck ever. It was shot with a .50 Caliber pistol from about 75 yards away. (Note the bandana around my neck) That's the team symbol of my sharp shooting pistol hunting crew. We call ourselves "The Pistoleros".

The DNR even payed us a visit and told us to shoot as many deer as we can this year, because Iowa is already severely overpopulated. He said everyone needs to fill out their tage 100%, or we are going to have a very very serious problem next year.

OK, fine. I'll hunt more.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


I got this link forwarded to me the other day from Tony Hakes, and I thought it was really funny. It's basically a website where you can upload pictures of people and turn them into dancing elves.

Here's one I threw together for fun:

Let me know if you recognize anyone.
(FYI: Corky Thatcher is NOT one of them, although his twin brother is)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Catching Up...

I have a couple of things to blog about and not a lot of time, so I'm gonna kill a couple of birds with one stone.

First off... my trip to the smoky mountains with T Hakes. The trip was excellent. We had 2 600+ miles days, a couple of 400 miles days, managed to stay overnight in a dry county, ran into plenty of rain, and saw some amazing scenery. Here we are at 6:00 AM leaving Mount Carrol, IL:

Here's some of the awesome scenery in Maggie Valley North Carolina, about 1000 miles later:

Next topic is a recent purchase of ours. It's a nice little 34' machine that will add a little bit of entertainment value to our tailgating season, as well as enhance our vacationing possibilities. I call her "Cys Matters".

I have a TON of stuff coming up in the next few weeks, so I'm sure I'll have to give more updates. This coming weekend is Greg Jr's bachelor party that I will be hosting, weekend after that I'm going on a surprise birthday something, weekend after that Greg Jr gets married, weekend after that we break in the new CYs Matters on the ISU vs Oklahoma game, and somewhere in there I may start up a storage business with the purchase of some downtown property. I get tired just reading all of that.

I would also like to send out a Happy Birthday to Gramma C!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Smokin' (Not Ciggies)

A recent purchase of mine has been paying dividends for the past 3 weeks, and I wanted to share some of the meaty goodness with all of you. I'm not sure if there's a better way to spend $108 at Wal-Mart.

This is a picture of my propane powered. Great Outdoors Smokey Mountain Series Tower Smoker.

I joined a smoking meat forum online and have been getting some expert tips on how to properly smoke multiple kinds of meat, what kind of spices to use, what kind of wood chips produce the best flavor, and every other detail about meat that you can think of.

This past Friday I smoked a pork tenderloin for 14 of my closest poker playing friends, and judging by the amount that was leftover (0.0 pounds), I'd say it was a hit.

One thing that didn't make sense to me was that cooking a piece of meat for 6 hours makes it tender and juicy. I've been a die hard griller for many years, and I always thought that was the best way to cook meat. But, after a few runs with the smoker, I now know that "Low and Slow" creates the juiciest, most flavorful meat I've ever had in my life.

After spending about an hour on the smoking meats forum this morning, I wanted to try a popular new "snack item" in the smoking world called a "Fatty". What is a fatty you ask? I was wondering the same thing when I saw the topic online, and after a few explanations, it's very simple. A fatty is a 1 pound roll of your favorite sausage. Some smokers say they are a very addictive morsel of goodness, that gets put on the smoker for a snack, anytime they smoke a pork loin, or a brisket. They only take 2 hours, and they're great for breakfast.

Andrea and I decided to smoke a few fatties this afternoon. I wanted to smoke one naked (the sausage, not me... well.... OK, me too), so we could use it as the control group in our little experiment. It's important to know what the meat tastes like plain, or you'll never know if you're adding good flavor to the meat with all your rubs and various other flavoring methods.

For the other two, we rolled out the sausage to a size of a standard piece of paper (8 X 11) Then we put diced vegetables and cheese on the inside, and rolled them up, sprinkled them with a spice rub, and put em in the smoker.

The top tray is Andrea's fatty in the front, and mine in the back with a meat thermometer stuck in it. Fatty's must cook to an internal temp of 160 degrees. The naked fatty is on the 2nd shelf. Just below that is the water pan, with mesquite wood chips in it. For this smoking session, I used oak wood chips that are made from retired Jack Daniels barrels. They make dynamite smoke, and great flavor. You can't see it, but just below the water pan is the iron wood chips box, where all the thin blue smoke comes from.

MMMMM.... look at that smokey goodness:

Here's the finished product. Naked fatty on the left, Andrea's in the middle, and mine on the right. The difference between Andrea's and I, is that she added tomatoes to hers, and I stuck with green peppers, mushrooms, onions and shredded cheese.

I gotta tell ya. These fatty's were excellent, and now I know why people say they're so addictive.
Next on the smoking agenda is:

1) Whole chickens injected with cajun
2) BBQ beef ribs, that pull away from the bone
3) Beef Brisket
4) Lamb loin
5) Any other meat on the planet that comes within 5 feet of me.

...and FYI: I know how funny "Smokin a fatty" sounds. That's one of the main reasons I chose to blog about it. ;-)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

March of Dimes Ride Iowa

I don't know if I can think of a better way of spending an 83 degree Saturday afternoon, then on a motorcycle. Which is exactly what I did, when I participated in the 1st Annual March of Dimes Ride Iowa this weekend. A $20 donation got you into the infield of the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa where they had live bands, vendors, beer, food and about 1200 bikes (participants).

My friend Wendell and I spent about 3 hours there, and then got lined up for the ride to Prairie Meadows Casino. We rode through the town of Newton, where the cops had intersections blocked off, so we could ride through stop signs, and stop lights the entire way. The people of Newton lined the streets, and waved to us as we rode by. It was a very cool moment to see the people of Newton smile, after the hard times they've been enduring lately.

The ride to the Casino was amazing. We went through the rolling hills of Iowa farm country and through small towns where people stood on their front porches and waved to us. My favorite part of the ride was when I would come to the top of a hill and see bikes for miles ahead of me, and miles behind me in my mirrors.

We arrived at Prairie Meadows, and took some time to look at more vendor merchandise, took a stroll through the bike show, and talked to a lot of very nice people who participated in the ride as well. We drew for door prizes, and I'll be darned if I didn't win a $25 gas card to Kum-n-Go. My lucky streak continues on making Charity Motorcycle Rides profitable.

I didn't want my luck to end there, so I went upstairs to kick back a few brews at the Blackjack table. I was getting up to about $140 in profit, and wanted to make an exit, but I had a feeling the cards were going to get even better. 3 losses in a row proved me wrong, and I picked up $110 in profit, cashed out, and headed for home at 6:00.

It was a great afternoon, and my only regret is that I didn't have my digital camera with me to take pictures of all the cool bikes and people that I met.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

CMN Poker Run

This past Thursday I was at Bike Night at Porky's and there was a guy handing out flyers for the 1st Annual Children's Miracle Network Poker Run. It was $20 per person, and you got free burgers / chips / pop all day, with the chance to win some prizes. I love poker runs because you usually get to meet a lot of nice people and the money goes to a great cause. Andrea and I geared up yesterday at 10:30 am, and headed for the Ankeny Wal Mart parking lot to get registered.

It was a beautiful day in the mid 80's, sunny, a small breeze, which is pretty much ideal for great riding. We took off with a group of 5 other bikes towards Saylorville Lake for our first stop of our 100 mile run. The object of this poker run was to make 5 stops, and at every stop you drew a chip out of a bucket, the chips were numbered 1 - 52 (cuz that's how many cards are in a deck), and the goal was to get the highest chipcount you could. What was my first draw? 1. As in One. The lowest chip in the bucket. I asked if there was a prize for lowest, and they said there was, but it was more of a booby prize. That became my mission for the day.

The next stop we were in for a nice little treat. That treat came in the form of a terential downpour. It came out of nowhere, and it felt like the drops were the size of golf balls. I had water overflowing out the top of my boots, and my freshly waxed bike was a complete disaster. But we pushed through it, and 5 excruciating minutes later then we were back on the sunny backroads rural Iowa, drying off as fast as we got wet.

We made all our stops, and were waiting for the rest of the bikes to get back so we could draw for prizes. In our first group of 5, the ladies counting the chips told us that as of right now, Andrea had the highest count, and I had the lowest, but there were still 7 - 8 bikes out that haven't had theirs counted.

Then it came time to announce the winners. The 3rd place winner for highest chip count was....... Andrea Kneifl. For that, she received a $25 gift card to Hy-Vee. Nice. The prize for lowest chip count goes to........ some guy named Doug. Dang! The guy beat me by 4 measly points for the booby prize.

After that, they drew for prizes with the tickets we purchased during registration. Andrea's name was drawn and she won this cool little motorycle clock. My name was drawn for sunglasses and a Sturgis Bandana. It was a great day, we met some very nice people, ate some good food, and actually took home some pretty sweet prizes. There's a pic of the prizes below.

Now, I don't like to think of a Charity Poker Run as profitable, but for $20 each, we made a pretty nice haul. Oh, and helped out a great charity. That too. ;-)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Relay for Life

I love to Blog about good news, good events, positively contributing to this planet, or stuff that's just plain fun to talk about. This post has it all, and I've been dying to write about it, ever since I got the pictures from Chad. So here we go....

Last Friday, there was a Relay For Life event in Waukee, Iowa to help raise money for cancer research. Chad and his family are big supporters of this cause because Chad's mom, and his brother are both survivors. The annual walk takes place for 12 hours. (6:00 pm to 6:00 am), and they have been participating for many years.

I have donated money to cancer charities ever since my sister Brigett, was diagnosed at age 29. I never have really felt the effects of cancer until it hit that close to home. I think it's a great cause, and I know my money is actually going to research, not just to pay a bunch of administrative costs, like some other charities. Sometimes it takes a wakeup call like that, to actually get people to start thinking seriously about a cure.

For the past couple of years I have purchased a luminary in honor of Brigett, for this event. The luminaries represent both people who have survived, and those who have had their lives taken. The luminaries run around the entire track. I believe they do that, because it adds a sense of purpose to the event. A visual representation of all the lives that the participants and donors are affecting. When people get tired, they can take a quick glance to their left and see why they're doing what they're doing. This is a picture of the luminary I bought for this year's event:

One other thing that was really cool about the event was the fact that Cory (Chad's Brother) was this year's Honorary Survivor. Here he is chatting with John McCain, who made a much-welcomed surprise appearance.

This is part of the team who put in 12 hours of overnight walking to make this event a HUGE success. The baton is Cory's because he was the Honorary Survivor.
Baton.... Relay.... Get it?

From left to right. Cory, Lindsay B, Lindsay W, Chad.
They do this event every year, and Chad made the ultimate sacrifice this time, by missing out on our monthly poker club. I don't care if you like poker or not, you gotta respect that. Excellent job guys, I feel honored just being a small contributor to this wonderful adventure.

By the way, is it just me, or does everyone in that picture look happy to be there, with the exception of Chad. Who appears to be suffering from a poorly timed bowel movement, or has taken a quick trip to Seering Gas Pain Land.

It's just an innocent observation, and I'm wondering if I'm the only one who sees it.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

New Seat

We have a motocycle trip coming up in May, and I felt it was time to upgrade my seat. If you know anything about motorcycles, then you know the best name in seats is Corbin. So, that's where I started. Scouring their website and ebay and all the authorized dealers I could find. I was fully prepared to spend the $1000 for a new one, then a gift was dropped in my lap.

I decided to post a message at my triumph message board to see if there were any new/slightly used ones lingering around that someone wanted to sell. There was, and it just happened to be red, and it came in the mail yesterday. It was a nice $600 savings, which the ol' bank account appreciates. What I didn't know was that the seat would be comfortable AND cool.

Here's my stock seat:

Here's my Corbin Rumble seat with color matched fiberglass:

Here's the flip up backrest in the "up" position:

Here's a view from the back:

I think it gives it a nice new look, with the stitching in the seat and the deepness of the seating position. Not to mention, it's one of the most comfortable seats on the market. My major complaint about putting a backrest on my bike was that it would ruin the look of the bike, and interupt the smooth lines from front to back. So, with this seat, you're just one wrist flick away from having a backrest to not having a backrest. Should make the trip that much more enjoyable.

Question: Does anyone know why they call it a Rumble Seat?

Answer: It's actually a Hot Rod term. Older cars used to have a Rumble Seat in them that would flip up around the trunk area. Corbin decided to steal that term when they made this seat.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

California and Lyme

A few weeks back I took a trip with 6 friends to LA, 5 of whom I've known since 5th grade. It's our annual trip that we used to refer to as Spring Break, now we just call it SB. I think it's the over 30 version of Spring Break. My trip didn't start out too well. I flew into Dallas Fort/Worth at 11:45am and was supposed to leave at 12:45pm. Thunderstorms nearby decided to keep me there until 10:55pm. The one good thing that happened was getting my picture taken with Jose Canseco while we were waiting to board our plane. He was on the same flight as me to LAX, only he was sitting first class.

I hopped on a shuttle at LAX and met up with my friends on the Newport Beach Pier at 1:00 am. We had a blast until the bar closed thanks to numerous 1 oz drinks that come from Mexico.

One thing I observed is that the easiest job in the world, is probably being a weatherman in California. Every single day we were there it was exactly the same. Sunny, clear skies, 75 degrees, no wind. It was a motorcycle rider's dream come true.

The next day we were off to a hotel in Hollywood. We were 2 blocks off of Hollywood Blvd (the famous walk of fame with the stars on it). I feel lucky for all the people who have a star on there, because about once a day that star is covered on some type of bum excrement. Lucky.

The very first night, and probably within the first 2 hours of us being there, we were sitting on our patio, enjoying some fermented beverages, the 2 European senior citizins upstairs from us came down and said "Can you guys please be quite, we live upstairs and you're being awfully loud. This is our home." We're all thinking, great, this is going to be a long weekend, which will probably end in us getting kicked out. Then, an event, what I can only describe as an act of God, was dropped into our a lap. The old guy and his wife were walking through the courtyard and the lady fell off the steps backwards and cracked her head open. Not bad, but bad enough to cause a lot of blood to come pouring out.

One of my friend's, Tony Hakes, just happens to be an EMT, and when he saw the blood he offered up his services. The old man very graciously accepted his offer, just a couple hours after he had just gotten done yelling at us. Tony was upstairs for about 20 minutes, and upon his return he was carrying 3 bottles of wine. Cheap, $3 wine, but free wine, given to him by the old couple as a token of their gratitude. The very last thing the old guy said to Tony was "You are good guys, you can be as loud as you want as late at you want. Thank you." No, thank you old man, cuz you just made our weekend a hell of a lot better.

We got our picture taken next to our favorite actress. I just wish she had been there to give us an autograph.

(Just in case you can't read the name, it says Betty White)

On Saturday night we rented a Hummer limo and took it up the Pacific Coast highway, past Beverly Hills and up through Malibu and back. Now, I don't know if "Yelling at Trannys from a Hummer Limo" is considered a sport, but if it is, we could definitely achieve an Olympic Gold medal. That 3 hour trip was a blast.

Some other highlights include:
1) Seeing the Pooparazzi mob Ashley Simpson on her way into a club in Hollywood.
2) Surfing/boogie boarding at Manhatton Beach
3) Venice Beach (aka Muscle Beach) and all the wackos
4) Going to bar with a mechanical bull, and 3 of our guys riding it, and getting completely destroyed.
5) Late night talks with Bums

On a different note. We took our dogs into the Vet yesterday, and a blood test told us that Zella has Lyme Disease. There's 2 kinds, one that will make a dog feel sick groggy, and one that will kill them. Luckily Zella has the one that makes her groggy. She has 30 days of pills to take, and then she should be good as new. I guess it comes from ticks, so with all the construction / woods around our place, I'm sure there's insects galore.

I leave for Phoenix this Friday on a trip with my family to celebrate my parent's 35th wedding anniversary. We're going to attend our first NASCAR race. Looking forward to it.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Customer Pop

Just when you think you're done walking through snow, bang.... it snows on March 17th. Not cool. I'm sick of snow. I want to see my brown grass turn green. I want to pick up 1,200 dog turds in my back yard. I want to smell the exhaust of my lawn mower and weed eater. I want to grill and light up tiki torches. I want to get back to shorts and t-shirts. I want a clean truck.

I don't think that's asking too much.

In other news, the only TV that's operational in my house right now is a 19" SHARP that I bought when I was in 10th grade. Perfect for watching March Madness, the single greatest sports event in the world. Both of my big screen TV's decided to fry the lamps in the same week. I just got off the phone with Customer Support and they said there's a known problem with a faulty balast in both of my TV's (They're both exactly the same model, only difference is their screen size), and they'll replace the lamps/balasts for free. I'm supposed to be getting 8,000 - 10,000 hours off of one lamp, so watching TV for 6 months doesn't really add up to 10,000 hours. They're also extending the standard 1 year warranty to 2 years, just in case.

To my surprise, replacing the bulbs is a "do it yourself" job. I took the old lamps out in about 20 seconds each. It consists of taking one screw off of a little trap door on the left side of the TV, then removing the bulb contraption by it's easily accessible pull handle.

Something that I thought was a little odd, is when the customer service rep told me to email my receipts into customer support, and in the subject line I need to put "Customer Pop". I guess that's the sound the lamp makes when it blows up.

Work is going really good. Like, beyond good.... good. For those of you who know where I work, you know that we're a company who relies on loaning money to sub-prime customers as our main source of revenue, to the tune of about 100 billion in receivables, give or take a few million. My company is replacing it's origination and servicing system (which are the systems the loans are booked and serviced on) starting in a couple of months. My database team has been chosen to lead the reporting conversion, and it's causing quite the disruption throughout the Chain of Command.

Since we're not officially under "IT", the entire technology group is wondering why they didn't get to take on this high profile project. Well, I got news for you IT nerds.... you're too nerdy, and you take waayyy too long to get things done.

This is going to be a really good project to showcase the skills of my team, and show the company how talented we are. If this project goes well, or I should say, when this project goes well, it will open up a lot of doors for my team. We've already been gaining some fantastic recognition lately, and this is just icing on the cake.

I also have a new guy hired who will be starting on the 26th of this month. He's much needed and I can't wait for him to start. I have 1 more opening to fill, and then I'm done recruiting. For awhile hopefully.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Snow Day

Just like back in the days of going to school, we had a snow day at work on Friday and for some reason, I was more excited now then I was back then. Maybe it's because I actually get paid to stay home now. Either way....

I started off my day with a trip to the gym in the morning and I had to ram through about 4 feet of piled up snow at the end of my driveway to get out of it. I barely made it out, but with 4 wheel drive, you can pretty much do anything you want. Right? So I thought. On my way back home, getting in wasn't quite as easy.
That, my friends, is the picture of a 4 wheel drive vehicle, with 0 tires touching the pavement. I had to dig that thing out for about an hour. There was so much snow compacted beneath that vehicle, I had to basically chip it away with a spade little by little. What does that remind you of dad? If you replace the Explorer with a 1976 Trans Am and add about 6 feet of snow beneath the vehicle the memory might come back to you.

After I was dug out I went to the casino with a couple coworkers. We bet on some dog races and some horse races for a few hours and really didn't have much luck. I think I lost about $20. We went to the blackjack tables and in about 30 minutes I was up $125 and my boss was up $165 so we called it quits and had a few beers at the Casino bar while we waited for our other companions to finish up.

We scooped up Andrea on our way back home and went and played some darts, ate some pizza and drank some beers at a bar called Stix. Greg and Steph and Chad and Lindsay came a little later and we had a grand old time.

One thing that still blows my mind is how someone didn't lose an eye with Andrea throwing darts. I guess I'll just consider myself lucky and call it good.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ice Storm Saturday

What do you get when you cross an ice storm outside, a garage with a propane heater and box full of trailer parts? You get 4 hours of fun. That's what.

I've done a lot of home improvement projects over the past 7 years, and in those 7 years, I've always driven a Ford Explorer. Great for bringing home things such as toilets and barstools. Bad for bringing home drywall, plywood, and 2X4's longer then 10 feet long.

It's also bad for my two trusty friends Kris and Chad(pickup owners). I've relied on them a LOT over the past few years to help me out with hauling things here and there, and I finally found a way to relieve them of their pickup related duties.

I bought a nifty little 4' X 8' trailer that's capable of hauling 1500 lbs. The great people of Harbor Freight provide a very good trailer at a very good price ($275 with shipping). Only problem is, it comes looking like this:

But, if you add in a new socket/wrench set that was purchased with gift cards that I received at Christmas time from my family:

4 hours, one smashed thumb, 2 cuts, and a goose egg on the forehead later, this will somehow appear out of that pile of parts:

I still have to get it licensed and put in some floor boards to give it a nice base, but other then that, it's officially ready for action. The really good thing about this trailer, is that it doesn't sit there like that and take up an entire stall in my garage by itself. Let's face it, nobody want to waste garage space on something that you use 10 - 20 times a year.

That's where this feature really comes in handy:

It takes up 19 inches X 4 ft of floor space when folded up and placed against the wall. Not even 8 square feet is being wasted. Garage Men of the world unite and high five while we drink beer and talk about guns and motorcycles.

I know what you're thinking. I won't be able to run boards the full 8' length of the trailer because it had to fold up. So, I'll have to cut the 8 foot boards in half where it needs to folds. Big deal. It's well worth it to have the folding feature.

Honestly, did any of you think about that?

That's what I thought.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Do you feel Manly?

My man's room is done. Finally.
I've had many requests to post this project, and I'm finally gonna follow through, just minutes after I finished getting it organized and cleaned up.

Here's the outside of the door. Notice the security punch code? That's the only way in. No way you're gonna get through that 2 inch steel door, or the plate steel that I'm gonna cover the outside walls in. But, if you wanna give it a try, I have a clip full of 14 hollow points waiting for you. ;-)

This is what it looks like when you step into the room. It's 6 feet wide and 22 feet long. Perfect size and space for a Gun Room. In my personal opinion. I textured the walls and put in knotty pine panelling on the ceiling and two end walls.

Here's a closeup of the texture. It's called slashcut, and the paint is no other then "Gun Metal Grey".

This is the first bench you come across when you enter the room. It's 6 feet wide and covered with a granite-look-alike laminate countertop. The bench is used for cleaning as well as displaying a few of my prized possessions.

The second bench is identical to the first, but this bench is used for reloading my shells. I inherited Dad's reloading equipment so I could keep ammo costs down for my Smith and Wesson Revolver. Each bullet costs $2.50 from the store, but when I reload, that costs goes down to $0.80 per shell. That also, automatically puts me at the mercy of dad anytime he wants some bullets made. I'm just a phone call away, and I'm sure he planned it that way.

This is the view from inside that I like. The door is perfectly trimmed in knotty pine and the color is a clost match to the walls. On the right hanging on the wall is my trusty Winchester semi-auto shotgun that I've had since I was 16. Hanging below that is Grandpa Eddie's double barrell shotgun that he gave to me Thanksgiving 2006. Notice there's one slot left on the rack? That will be filled this summer with my new goose gun. On the left wall there's a couple hunting pictures hanging up. A picture from the trip that I blogged about in my last posting, and another one when Dad, Tyler, Rambo, Zella and I had a good day of hunting.

"But, Rich... where's all the bullets you've been making in this shiney new room?"
Well, I've made 20 so far, and that's just because that's all the tips that Sportsman's Warehouse had in stock for my gun. No fear, there's more on the way via the internet. The bullet on the left is a factory 325 grain Hornady round, and the bullet on the right is one that I made. Mine is 275 grains and has a much deeper hollow point, which will do more damage on impact then the factory round.