Berlin Airlift

February 8, 2009

We took the kids to the museum of flight yesterday.  Grandpa came and brought Lt. Col. Kenneth “Hawk” Slaker.  Lt. Col. Slaker flew in the Berlin Airlift and it was a real opportunity for the kids to meet and talk with an American hero.

The kids and the pilots

Grandpa was stationed in Wiesbaden which is at the lower left of the map below.  He flew missions between Wiesbaden and West Berlin during the sixties.  Phyllis was raised through kindergarten in off base housing in Wiesbaden

The airlift map

It helped make bring a bit of history to life.  I know both Phyllis and I enjoyed the time.  I am hoping our children got as much out of it as we did.  We do not want them to forget the sacrifice of previous generations.  When you look at the attitudes of selfless sacrifice in the Berlin Airlift and juxtapose it to the prevailing sentiment of our culture today it almost makes you cry.


We must teach our children so that they can learn from the past.  The people who lived through the time of the holocaust continue to pass on.  We owe it to them and to our children to pass on their legacy and to continue to fight for the ideals that they stood for.

The flight crew 

You can read more about Ken in his book A Military Pilot’s Exciting Life and Visit From the Hereafter.

I also recommend reading about The Berlin Airlift or the Candy Bombers (Gail Halverson).  There are also  some excellent children’s books and a video available.


Pictures from Father and Son Gym night

February 8, 2009

Air Hockey Air Hockey gang

All smiles Okay - enough smiling

Bouncing Fool Coming at you

The Line Second grade leads the way

Hes still going 50...51

The queue Jenga Tower

Filling the fellowship hall Dinner fit for guys

Father and Son Gym night

February 8, 2009

Christopher and I went to the Father and Son Gym night at Highlands Community Church on Friday night.  We had a lot of fun.  Christopher brought his pogo stick to share with other kids.  It was a very big hit.  There were often several young boys waiting to try it out (even a couple of Dads.

They served the usual fair of pizza, soda and chocolate chip cookies.  It was of course sports themed although neither Christopher nor I watch much in the way of sports.  Christopher does like Nascar.

They had a very inspiring talk.  It was about spending time with your son.  They showed a video from You Tube about Patrick Henry Hughes.  It is worth watching.

Afterward they had an object lesson about spending time with your sons.  They said the average father engages 3 times a day for 5 to 10 seconds at a time resulting in only a couple of minutes of face time a week.

Christopher and I discussed it and figured we average about five hours  a week.  He was very enthusiastic about the fact that we do things together.  I did not know it would have that big of an impact.  I imagine if most of the men there took the time to brine their sons to the gym for a Friday evening, they probably spend more than the norm with their sons. 

I will post some pictures of the event later.  Need to resize and clean up the photos.

Heather’s Coffee Stop versus Starbucks

January 12, 2009

For years I have been a coffee snob.  We started ordering chocolate with our coffee back in the late 70s.  Had to have our mocha fix, and back then there just wasn’t a coffee shop on every corner.  We were lucky to have a few coffee shops in the Tacoma, Gig Harbor area.  They were not like the espresso stands of today.  You were really lucky if you could get a muffin with your coffee.

I don’t remember when the tipping point occurred and espresso went from a few bean geeks to the popular in thing to do.  But it is popular.  And the quality ranges the whole gambit from AWESOME to absolute dreck.  I tend to shoot for the best average when picking the supplier for my addiction.  I look at several issues:

  1. Is the coffee good (50%)
  2. Are the people personable (25%)
  3. Is the atmosphere relaxing (25%)

As with most analysis it helps to have some simple rules regarding the sample set.  Throw out the highest sample (unless they are all high – and well then you have found nirvana) and the lowest sample. 

There are exceptions.  If a stand has great coffee but the personality is offensive – write it off.  For example, I find it offensive when people use lack of clothing to sell coffee.  This says to me you want to drink our pedestrian sludge so you can look at women.  Get a life, get a room, don’t care – just don’t push poor grind by selling sex. 

So this brings me back to which coffee purveyors I utilize.  I go to Starbucks and Heather’s coffee stop.  I go to them for very different reasons.

Starbucks (sit and relax)

  1. Coffee: 65%
  2. People: 75%
  3. Atmosphere 95%
  4. Aggregate score: 75% (remember the first one weighs double)

I go to Starbucks because the coffee is acceptable.  They have wireless so I can get work done.  The decor is usually relaxing and easy for me to enjoy the coffee and the ambiance.  If the atmosphere were not 95% I would likely not go to Starbucks.

Heather’s Coffee (driving to work)

  1. Coffee: 90%
  2. People: 95%
  3. Atmosphere 25%
  4. Aggregate score: 75% (remember the first one weighs double)

I go to Heather’s because they offer great coffee at a great price and the baristas are enjoyable.  They know our drinks, our names and enough about our family to make a quick conversation at the drive through window enjoyable. 

Also, Heathers is about 15% cheaper than Starbucks and they offer a prepaid $25.00 coffee card for $20.00.  Net is fun, quick and far cheaper than Starbucks.  But it is a drive through.

New Year’s Eve snacking

December 30, 2008

I am making one of my favorite dishes this New Year’s Eve, Daniel’s Eight Pepper Pasta salad.  It is not for the faint of heart.  I like hot food and this is a recipe I came up with for a Christmas party at Boeing well over a decade ago.  I eat less of it now then I used to, I love the flavor, but my body doesn’t handle the processing as well as it used to.  Anyway, since I have enjoyed it, I thought I would share it.

Daniel’s Eight Pepper Pasta Salad


  • Serrano Peppers (6)
  • Habanero Peppers (6)
  • Red Hot Super Chili Peppers (6)
  • Jalapeno Peppers (6)
  • White Chili Peppers (2)
  • Pablano Peppers (2)
  • Anaheim Peppers (2)
  • Top Ramen Oriental flavor noodles (2 pkgs)
  • Sliced mushrooms (2 cups)
  • Garlic (4 cloves)
  • Soy sauce (4 oz)
  • Thai Peanut sauce (16 oz)
  • Tsang’s hot chili oil
  • Toasted sesame seeds

Take all the peppers and slice them into rings.  Make sure that you save all the seeds.  For extra heat the seeds should be crushed with a bash and chop, or the flat of a knife blade just prior to being added to the oil.  Heat a wok with the Tsang’s oil.  It takes about a tablespoon for me, but will depend on your wok.  When the wok is up to temperature add the seeds, peppers, garlic and mushrooms.  Stir fry.  When the mushrooms and peppers get a translucent sheen add the soy sauce and the seasoning packets from the ramen noodles.  Reduce the heat to simmer.  Cook the noodles in water as per the instructions on the package.  Drain and add the noodles once cooked.  After the noodles have been thoroughly mixed in add the Peanut sauce.  Bring back to a simmer.  remove from the heat and place in the desired serving dish.  I use a Corningware 9″ French white casserole dish.  Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.  Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

The dish needs 24 hours for the various peppers to blend and reach full potency.  The end result is estimated at about 250,000 SR, or 10 times hotter than Tabasco.


Let it snow :)

December 18, 2008

Dinning Room table - small

Surviving the cold

December 16, 2008

The ramification of the fire at the beginning of December are beginning to become fully known.  We have removed the carpet and flooring around the wood stove.  The repair falls just under our deductible amount and we will be waiting to fix it until after the new year.  The smoke smell is starting to dissipate, or else we have become to inurned to the stench.

We had not wanted to have any fires because we feared that the flooring might be more susceptible to fire having already been scorched, however our hand was forced.  Our primary heater has had issues due to a vermin infestation.  We had been living on our wood stove and gas fireplace until after the first of the year (still catching up our mortgage for the previous unemployment).  Well, our Gas fireplace failed.  So, no central heating, no wood stove, no gas fireplace and the coldest temperatures since 1964.

I ended up buying two space heaters to keep the house survivable until I could make alternate repairs.  I dug out and sanded down the sub flooring beneath the wood stove.  I bought some hearth rug and heat resistant wood.  I put down the food, covered it with the rug and placed the old cracked mantle on top.  It has worked like a charm and we are again having fires in the fireplace.

I tested and then took apart the Gas fireplace (yes I disconnected the electricity and the gas first).  It was very dirty inside.  I cleaned it all out, but could not revive it.  I can get the pilot light to start if I manually light it, but the igniter will not maintain a flame. I believe the electronics are fired.  It is 20 years old and time for a replacement.

Yesterday evening I got the main heater working.  It is now a balmy 65 degrees in the house.  We were getting it up to about 50 with the space heaters and the stove.  This seems like absolute paradise.

Now at least we can survive the cold streak.