28 December 2012

Slapped in the face

The Weekly Standard has the story where BO has given payraises to the WH, members of congress and federal workers.  (Via Drudge)

These days wages are down in the private sector and public sector employees are over compensated compared to the private sector, and he gives them a raise.

This is a slap in the face to every private sector worker where raises are non-existent, and some are taking pay cuts because it's better than a lay off.  Just ask Hostess employees where a small group took the entire company down over 8%.  And layoffs are something government employees will never likely face.   BTW, your humble host is included in the "pay cut" portion of the diagram.  I took a voluntary pay cut because company revenues are down and it's better than the Hostess situation.

The normal private sector executive reaction to reduced revenue is to lay people off.  But our CEO prefers to keep people working to get our new products done so we are ahead of the game when the economy turns around.

This pay cut represents the merit increases earned in the last two cycles.  On the other hand, since it effectively comes off  "last dollar" earned in the year, a sizable portion of that would have gone to the .IRS anyway.  That makes it hurt a bit less.

I've been through this with the DayJob a couple times before.  We've covered the revenue shortfall in the past by plant shutdowns which I actually prefer because while the $$$ goes away, I get something back in return - time.  And the pay automatically returns when the revenue returns.  But the downside to my customers is that I'm less available to respond to their issues.  In reality I'm pretty much on call that week anyway.  Fortunately I don't have to be in the office.

Last couple downturns he's done an across the board pay cut.  While it hurts in the short run, it's always been restored, plus a financial thank you on the back end.  This time he made it voluntary.  I volunteered because I have confidence  he'll make it right and then some in the future.

26 December 2012


Santa delivered a particular LED* (Lead Emitting Device) to the SandCastle safe for the benefit of the SandCastle Son.

He joined the youth shotgun program at our local range back in the Fall.  It's a heck of a deal, they provide the coaches, shotguns (youth sized Rem 1100's) and he gets up to 100 clays and shells a month.  All for $60 for the year!  Yes it's heavily subsidized.  If you ever wondered where the funds raised at your local Friends of NRA dinners go to, here is one program that it funds. 

He's picked up my mossy 12 gauge a couple times, but though he's big for his age, it's still to big for him.   The LED Santa delivered is bantam sized that fits him well, possibly on the verge of too small.

The club used to have clay pigeon throwers on the line at the main range.  If you look up our picture on POTG (6th row down, all the way on the right), that was then.  They have since removed the throwers from the main range and built a token operated shotgun only range.  It was probably the right decision for the club as they need extra bench space at the main range and the throwers were under utilized.  OTOH as a user, I liked throwing my own $4 for 90 pigeons on the main range and now it's twenty cents a bird for me.  But hey, it's a nice set up and the convenience is worth the price.

We headed out to the club to check out the new arrival.  I haven't shot a clay in several years so I looked forward to the opportunity.  We stopped in at the admin office and bought a couple tokens with the promise that we (as in the SCSon) would be back to buy more if it wasn't too busy and we were having fun.

Down on the range the RO complimented the SCSon on his stance and asked if I'd coached him.  I 'fessed up and credited the Jr. Program.  We each blasted through each of our 25 birds in short order.  The SCSon offered to go get more tokens.  I agreed on the basic "I buy, you fly" basis.  "flying" in this case means running a couple hundred yards up the hill from the shotgun fields to the admin building.  And back.  So we did a 2nd round. 

Back when the POTG picture was taken, I could reliably hit both doubles, plus the largest piece still flying afterwards.  That was a while ago and I am clearly out of practice.  It will take a while to get the sight picture back.  Today's 50 birds didn't do it.

My shoulder had had enough but the SCSon wasn't done.  So back up the hill for a couple more tokens and another 50 birds!

In the end, here's the break down:
Clay Pigeons:                           $20
Shot shells:                              $39
Quality time with the SCSon:    $priceless! Truly I wouldn't have missed today for the world.  I also wish I'd brought a camera.  Next time!

Priceless!  I hope your post-Christmas went as well!

*  The LED joke makes more sense if your a EE.  (or maybe a CE)

25 December 2012

Merry Christmas

From the SandCastle Crew!

08 December 2012

Christmas Traditions

Every family has their own Christmas traditions.  One of our traditions is that the SandCastle doesn't do Christmas cookies!  We fry up wontons, "Because nothing says Christmas like fried wontons!  It helps if you understand our sideways sense of humor*.

This tradition started several years ago following a disappointing experience at a local Chinese restaurant.  We ordered fried wontons and were served wonton skins with tofu filling.  I explained my disappointment to the SCQueen "I can do better fried wontons that this!" and she decided we should do just that.

An internet search turned up a recipe.  Sorry, I don't recall where it was found or who to credit.  But the nice thing about wontons, is that it's hard to go wrong.  Feel free to adjust to your taste.  The items in bold are the the ones we added and the strikethrough are the ones we deleted.  I learned to fold wontons growing up when mom took some Chinese cooking classes.  Christmas season is a rare break where we can put in the time to do a proper job.
2 pounds ground pork
1 lb ground pork
1 lb finely chopped shrimp
1 lb finely chopped chicken
1 cup sliced water chestnuts, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped bamboo chutes
3 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
2 Tbsp. minced scallions
I hate onions
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. rice wine, sake or rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. sesame seed oil
Suggest olive oil in place of sesame seed oil
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
70 wanton skins
Cooking oil for deep fat frying

Put pork in bowl and chop with a knife to allow for even mixture with other ingredients. Squeeze chopped water chestnuts in a paper towel to remove moisture and then add to pork. Add remaining ingredients except for wanton skins and cooking oil and stir well until completely mixed.

Place about 1 tsp. of the mix in the center of a wanton skin and fold the skin over to make a triangle. Pinch edges of wanton skin together while moistening with just a little water on your fingers. The water helps hold the wanton skin together.

Heat oil to 350 degrees in a wok or a deep fat fryer. Cook wantons only about 3 or 4 at a time to make sure you do not lower the cooking temperature of the oil too much. Maintaining the heat of the cooking oil will keep the wantons from absorbing too much oil. Remove wantons with a slotted spoon or frying strainer when they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels. You can keep the cooked wantons warm in the oven while you cook the remaining wantons.

Serve with sweet and sour sauce, duck sauce, plum sauce and/or hot Chinese mustard. You can substitute ground shrimp or turkey for the pork or even use a combination of all three.

The basics of folding wontons is simple:  Place a dab in the center of a wonton skin.  Fold an opposite corners together creating a triangle with the filling in the center.  Fold the 90deg corner forward and draw the two 45 deg corners back to each other.  Apparently this last step has a lot of nuance that I cannot describe and even demonstrating, the SCQueen has trouble duplicating.  Heh... checking out YouTube, I see several ways to fold them, none of which is what I was taught 40 years ago.  Still check out the videos and find something that works for you.  Once you're eating them, the original shape doesn't matter!

Putting the "fried" into "fried wontons"!
The recipe above made something between 250-300 individual wontons.  Between the SCCrew & the SCSIL, we folded and fried these all in a couple hours after Saturday night dinner.  The actual folding took about 90 minutes.

Theses are great snacks.  They freeze well and a nicely warm up in the microwave.  It only takes a couple minutes to warm up 4-6 plus mix up some Chinese hot mustard.

* I think Robb is on our frequency:
I thought “Dammit. I should have bought some 20,000 lumens tactical light and let her use that.  I gave myself the giggles thinking about someone having a flashlight that lit up the entire cafeteria and gave the kids in the front row 3rd degree burns.
Um Yea... I LOL'd that "mee too" LOL!
Update:  It's true!  Bacon makes everything better!  partway through the run I had the brainstorm to mix in some crumbled bacon bits.   nom nom!