Interesting.

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The old Indian chief sat in his home on the reservation, smoking his ceremonial pipe, eyeing the two U.S. government officials sent to interview him. "Chief Two Eagles," one official began, "you have observed the white man for many years. You have seen all his progress and all his problems." The chief nodded. The official continued, "What do you think of all the white man has done?" The chief stared at the officials for more than a minute, and then calmly replied. "When white man found the land, Indians were running it. No taxes. No debt. Plenty buffalo, plenty beaver. Women did most of the work. Medicine man free. Indian men hunted and fished all the time." The chief paused, then added, "Only white man dumb enough to think he could improve system like that."

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I feel like traveling.

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I am tired of looking at scenes like the photo below. Iowa and its surrounding states have a special kind of beauty all their own – but scenes like this one do get old.

475151_22929464(It’s a cornfield.)

I want to be somewhere like the photo below. Somewhere completely free of diesel trucks, leash laws, traffic noise and, above all, cornfields. Don’t get me wrong, I love sweet corn, but cornfields serve as a stark reminder of what used to be. It’s very difficult to find original prairie – any place that corn can grow profitably is being used to profitably grow corn.

650549_72079295(I have no idea where this photo was taken)

Stone State Park is just outside of Sioux City. It’s a beautiful park, plenty of scenic overlooks and a decent campground with modern facilities. Its only drawback is that it’s a campground where you literally park your car next to your tent. You’re awoken all through the night by headlights, RV’ers and other desecrations to wilderness solitude. I want to go somewhere that requires me to hike a few hours to get to the campsite.

I want to be able to sit by a fire with a good book and my dog, cook foilfood in the coals and at night relax in the tent with my wife listening to NOTHING but the bugs and night creatures. No bumping sound systems,  no horns, no diesels, no traffic, no light pollution etc. A couple big nasty cigars are involved somewhere in that equation. Wouldn’t mind a six-pack and a few good friends, either.

prairie-stone-state-park(Stone State Park)

A quick word about Listia.com

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My wife and I have been getting into Listia.com lately. It’s an auction website for ‘free’ stuff – they use ‘credits’ and you bid to win random free items.

So far I’ve gotten a few books, a door alarm, some antique stamps, a vial of gold flake and a few other random items. Kind of interesting.

When you sign up, they start you off with 50 credits but occasionally will give you 100-500 free ones. Just the luck of the draw, I guess. You can purchase credits 100 for $10 – but that’s a ridiculous ripoff.

The only items really worth bidding on if you’re wanting to not spend any cash are the ones marked “Free Shipping.”

The easiest way to get credits on Listia is to buy an Amazon.com $5 or $10 gift card. These will go for anywhere from 800-2000 credits and won’t cost you anything to ship (E-giftcard, ya just email them the code)

It’s a fun diversion, you can end up with some really esoteric stuff – and it’s always a pleasure to get stuff in the mail. If you sign up at the following link we both get 50 extra free credits. Just sayin. http://www.listia.com/?r=54028

Coffeemaker Abuse

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My day is beginning with an experiment. My coffeemaker is happily gurgling away in the kitchen – sure, it’s an innocuous enough statement – but the thing is filled with organic fair-trade dark coffee mixed with Starbucks fine-ground espresso roast. Beyond the obvious ethical and moral value-clash playing out deep in the dark recesses of my coffeemaker, I’m flat-out curious about the waking-up properties of the darkly evil brew.

The olfactory properties of said brew are certainly pleasing, but I won’t know until I pour it into my blue enamel camp mug and carry said mug with my recently acquired copy of "Backpacker" magazine out to my porch – at which point I shall kick back and enjoy the morning sunshine with my questionable coffee and bitchin’ magazine.

Good day, all.

WITCC 19% Graduation Rate?

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Apparently Western Iowa Tech in Sioux City has a 19% graduation rate, according to the FAFSA website. Hopefully that’s an error.

Steak sans grill

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I recently picked up a pair of choice angus top sirloin steaks from Hy-Vee – nothing special, but looked decent. As Sioux City is still in the grip of winter, outdoor grilling really isn’t a possibility. I’ve been experimenting these last few weeks with…wait for it . . .

cooking steaks inside.

I know, blasphemy, right?

Tonight I tried a new method. I wanted that seared, almost charred quality that comes from grilling a steak over charcoal. I can’t get a skillet hot enough with this little dorm stovetop, so I came up with the following.

1. Take your steaks out of the fridge at least an hour before you want to start cooking.

2. Cover them in kosher or sea salt. Literally cover them. You don’t want to see any red. This may seem counterintuitive, but trust me on this. You may want to add a little seasoning at this point.

3. Let ‘em sit for at least half an hour or so, covered. Leave them on the counter. Don’t put them in the fridge.

4. Rinse, pat very dry. Completely dry. You don’t want any moisture left on those steaks.

5. Take your skillet out of the oven. By now it should be stupid hot. This is a good thing.

6. Toss the steaks on the skillet, turning after the first side is seared to your liking. If you’re cooking more than one steak, be sure they aren’t crowding each other.

7. Lower your oven temp to around 425 degrees, put the skillet in the stove.

8. Let ‘em sit in there for awhile, check ‘em every now and then. Usually will only take 2-5 mins depending on how thick your steaks are and how well done you prefer.

9. Brush them with a little butter, a bit of Worcestershire sauce and serve.

Not as good as grilled, but it’ll get you through the cold winter months.

3/4/2010

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Got a crap ton done today. Made all the phone calls necessary for family life this morning, went to my vision appointment where I had photos taken of the back of my eye (that looked like something from the Hubble Telescope). Picked up the glasses an hour later, boom. The world is sharp and in focus again. Happy face.

We tried to walk around Bacon Creek, but the sun was headed down and the wind had picked up, making it too cold for ourselves, not to mention our little one. We settled for a gi-normous Hy-Vee run, filling our trunk with about 200 pounds of food.

Xander sat in his stroller for the first time today; before now he’d always ridden in the infant seat attached to the stroller.

SO yeah, that was today. What did you guys  do today?

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