Saturday, March 3, 2012

More challenges

I was all excited to post about week 9 of the 52 week Coleman challenge, then I realized I hadn't posted week 8, whoops.

Anyway, seems like a lot of people didn't like my green beans challenge so we got pork for week 8's challenge. Thats fine, a good excuse to pull out the Coleman oven again:

Then this week our challenge was fish. I was actually a little surprised how slow the entries were to come in. We got good variety on this one though. I tried to emulate one of my favorite fish dishes:

I think I posted about the Prepo on here when I brought it home. It didn't work then, its got a little bronze filter sock thing inside which was clogged, a quick soak in carb cleaner got it flowing again. It works okay now and actually runs better the more its used. The problem of course is that the fuel is no longer manufactured. I've got a half dozen cans and I've done some experiments with refilling them. It can be done but its not cheap. Fortunately I think this stove can be modified to use larger cans that other butane stoves use.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A little politics

I don't normally post about politics on this board but today I got kind of an odd message from Scott Brown, he's the Republican Senator that represents this state. In it, among other things he says the following:"One of my top priorities is to ensure that all American citizens are protected from terrorist attacks, and that our nation remains strong and secure. I firmly believe that a terrorist captured here in the United States or overseas should not have the same privileges as those afforded to a common criminal. Additionally, I believe Miranda rights should remain reserved only for U.S. citizens in the civilian criminal justice system."
So he's basically saying, if you're in this country and not a citizen then our rights against self incrimination. This violates BOTH the fifth and sixth amendments of the US constitution. The fifth amendment is about self incrimination, Miranda rights say the cops can't make you incriminate yourself, "Anything you say in can and will be used against your in a court of law". The sixth amendment provides for your right to counsel, that is your right to have a lawyer "You have the right to an attorney, if you cannot afford an attorney one will be provided for you". So these are RIGHTS that every CITIZEN has. Why, you might as, do we care about non-citizens? When you travel abroad to first world countries (the UK, Europe, Japan, Australia, etc) you expect to be treated in their legal system more or less like you would be here. By saying that we will not respect Miranda rights for non-citizens we risk the ire of other countries. Do you really want to risk your life outside of the US just because we think giving up rights will make us "safer"? This is another case where the "protectionists" want to save us from the big bad world by asking us to "just give up a little bit" and we'll be "safer". Make up your own mind but I'm not buying it.
Interestingly if you Google the quote above its basic idea shows up in articles that bash both Republicans and Democrats. You can find anti-Obama right alongside anti-Bush. Thats pretty weird huh?

Edit: Whats pretty weird is how Blogger decided I wanted white blocks over all the text in this post. I swear Google tries to censor me periodically. It didn't show up in any preview until I published the post. To fix it I had to edit the HTML and remove a bunch of span tags. They were everywhere, even mid word...

Coleman Challenge goes on the road!

During week 6 I was off to California for work and would have no time for the challenge. Fortunately my friend Chris has Coleman gear and lives reasonably near to where I would be so I was able to go to his house.
Since I'd been the first entry the week before I got to pick this week's challenge. I chose green beans thinking that they're a great side dish and everybody loves green beans. That turned out to be a poor choice as most people didn't think that green beans were a "fun" challenge. For me it was a whole different story, I tried out several recipes the week before in deciding what to make. Since I was on the road I decided to go simple and made Sautéed Ginger Green Beans:

They didn't come out quite the way I'd wanted. I think in retrospect mostly because I was nervous to really crank up the heat while using teflon coated pans. I think I need to give this one another try on my own stove with my own pans...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The challenge continues

We're now in week 6 of the 52 week Coleman Challenge, thats 10% complete.

Week 3 was potatoes. I didn't want to just fry up potatoes in a pan so I broke out the Coleman oven and did chocolate chip potato muffins:

Week 4's challenge was pasta and I rushed home one night after work to put together a pot of American Chop Suey:

Week 5 challenged us to cook chicken so I slowed cooked chicken, pork and sausage in my dutch oven:

This week's challenge is pancakes. One important point of the challenge is that whomever finishes the challenge first gets to choose the next challenge. This has brought out a competitive streak in me and I set up my stove in the freezing cold and fried up some apple pecan pancakes earning me the right to choose next week's challenge:

Next week is going to be my biggest challenge yet because I have to travel to California for work. Hopefully I'll be able to find somebody who can hook me up for a couple hours so I can bust this out.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Something new

A couple weeks ago a challenge was issued on the CCF, thats the Coleman Collectors Forum;
Use a camp stove once a week for 52 weeks. Every week a new theme is issued, follow the theme and post pictures.

The first challenge was hot dogs. Now I don't normally eat hot dogs but I'm always up for a challenge. I also figured that anything worth doing was worth overdoing so I decided to make a video:

Week two's challenge was eggs. Eggs are so easy to do poorly that I went with french toast.

These videos were really fun to make, I'm hoping I'm able to keep up with making a video every week. Theres nothing like a challenge to get you up off the couch and get things done.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Vacation - Wrap up

So the cruise was a success, after Cozumel we had another day at sea and into Tampa. The trip home was uneventful. I'd been a little nervous about making our flight but it was no problem at all. Being a paranoid traveler means you don't miss your plane.

Would I cruise again? You bet.
Would I cruise on Norwegian again? Maybe, but I want to try out another cruise line first. We definitely felt like this was the geriatric cruise line and we'd hoped to find a younger, more excited crowd. The dance club pretty much emptied out around midnight although it was open longer. We didn't close the place down each night but it was pretty dead by the time we left. The food situation was also, well, weird. A lot of people complained about the food but it seemed like their main complaint was that nobody was shoving food into their face twenty-four hours a day. I considered that a good thing. We didn't have any complaint about the food although we did steer away from the buffet pretty quick and the specialty restaurants were kind of expensive, or rather they were exactly what I'd expect to pay if I went out...

A couple lessons learned:
DON'T book shore excursions through the cruise line

DO wear sunscreen

A camelbak hydration pack can be used to smuggle booze on board

Tequila beach in Costa Maya is worth doing, bring your own towel and eat next door at Senior Frog's

Swim with the dolpins at Dolphinaris but don't pay full price for the pictures. In fact if you bring a non-swimmer they can take pictures for you.

Senior Frog's near the cruise dock in Cozumel is rowdy (at least it seemed from outside).

Vacation - Cozumel

Gah, 3 months to finish a travelog is a little long...

Anyway our last port of call was Cozumel, thats an island off the coast of Mexico, pretty much opposite Playa Del Carmen. This was another docked port of call and there were MANY other cruise ships. I think I counted 7 total. We were docked directly next to the Norwegian Spirit which is pretty much the same as our ship although a little smaller.

We'd decided to "swim with the dolphins" on the premium dolphin experience. This took us to Dolphinaris which was really great, unfortunately "swim with the dolphins" it is not. Its really, "stand near the dolphins" although you do interact with them. The facility is fantastic although recent rains meant that the water was a little cloudy. The pools have ledges where you stand to interact with the dolphins. We got to have a dolphin "hug" which involves putting your hands out and touching the dolphin's fins, kiss the dolphin's nose and feed the dolphin a fish. Actually I got to feed him 2 fish. All the time you mug for the cameras which are all around. The trainers give a really nice dolphin talk and show some anatomy and explain some dolphin on dolphin

The exit is of course through the gift shop where they try to get you to buy your pictures. DO NOT take the first offer. The big package first offer was like $1500, we'd decided to buy one or two prints maybe but played it cool when the salesman came by. He quickly sold us the same big package for ~$300. I tried to get a better price but he wasn't moving, he'd given us his best price take it or no. This package got us all our pictures on CD, a DVD with video of our interaction and a couple prints. Unfortunately we didn't look close enough and in one of mine my eyes are closed... Oh well.
It takes some time to get the prints so we ate in the attached restaurant which wa
s much better than we expected. Then back to the ship to drop off the pictures and time for shopping.

Cozumel is clearly built for tourist trade, theres a big shopping plaza with shops leading off on the streets as far as the eye can see. The locals see you and expect all Americans to have money hanging out of their pockets. We were pretty well tapped at this point (day 6 of 7 after all) but my wife is an excellent target. I had wanted to go to a grocery store I'd spotted earlier in the day and at one point had to literally drag her away from the sellers even though we had basically no money left.

I love going to grocery stores when I travel, you learn a lot about people by what their grocery stores are like. I also like to buy snacks like chocolate bars, that we don't have at home. On our return there was a kid selling roses so I bought one for Angie. Of course you aren't allowed to bring anything alive back on the ship so we had fun, Angie would rip the petals off and since it was windy they'd blow away, I got a bunch of interesting pictures of the petals flying.

We saw later some young couples where the guys were being bigshots and had bought their women a couple dozen flowers, when we got back on board the ship had big trash cans full of them.

I'd like to have more time in Cozumel, perhaps with a scooter or small car. This is the Yucatan peninsula so its actually a fairly safe place to be compared to northern Mexico as you get near the US.