Regulators… mount up!

Oh sure, I get the blue beetle, Cassie gets the sporty green Lambo, and that damn kid has the Ferrari. Go figure.

The expansion, she be coming, and that means….

ACCOUNT WIDE MOUNTS!

It’s kind of funny, really.

I never pursued mounts as a quantity kind of thing before. As long as each of my characters had their own ‘unique’ ride to fit their character, I was happy.

Hadn’t ever pursued the expensive mounts (except to be a Dragon, of course), hadn’t ever spent much time trying to get any of the unobtainium forged flyers. Chances were good I’d get them on my main, and, well…

Flight Form trumps all else.

Shared mounts. Account wide.

This is delightful.

As you can see from the picture above, I’ve taken the news as a spur to drive me on to doing some of the things I never spent much time on before.

Like clearing trash in AQ40, looking for a shiny red ride.

Yes, my son ninja’ed the red one from me. Oh hell yes he did, too. No, I’m not joking, he totally jacked my ride.

And killing the first boss in Karazhan, every week, on every character that can solo it, until that damn horsie dropped out of sheer exhaustion.

I can’t stop looking at those eyes… those damn, knowing green eyes… what have they seen?

I love soloing content on my Druid. Always have. Mostly, I don’t. Over the years I finally faced up to the truth that I really am that shallow… if there ain’t something I want out of it, something concrete I could carry away, I’m not going to do it more than once. After I’ve had the thrill of exploration and adventure, I’m not going back.

Unless there are shinies of some sort.

It’s a hard truth to accept, but there it is.

Is there an enchant that might drop? A chance for a rare mount? Neat looking transmog gear?

If I can’t use it, I’m not gonna solo it.

If we made all gear drops Bind on Account, I’d never leave my Druid again, except when Team Snuffy needed a Priest to heal. I’d just run as a Druid and hand shit off to my alts, man.

Caer Morrighan has a great pair of posts on pursuing the Mountain O’ Mounts achievement, and I’ve been following it on my Druid as much as I can, with an eye toward soloable content.

The ‘Bind on Account’ thing is supposed to really mean ‘on Account’. Like, taking into account all characters on ALL SERVERS. There was a blue post that made that point very clear.

If I take into account the mounts I have across all characters… I think I might have 100 right now. Maybe.

Or… maybe I’m missing one.

One little RED ONE.

Little red ride jacking ninja mutter grumble mutter…

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Bacon-Wrapped Brown Sugar Devil Dogs

After the Power of Bacon video I shared last night, I felt that I needed to back up my stated love of bacon with some proof.

I’ve shared things on the blog about bacon before, but it occured to me that most of the time I’m sharing with you the passion other people have shown for bacon. I’m not giving you any examples of the lengths I have gone for bacon in my own past.

Time to rectify that.

Recipe time!

Back in the old, old days, as a US Marine stationed in Camp Pendleton, California, our unit would frequently have beachside PT parties.

I surfed a lot back then, and played a ton of volleyball, so being one of the beach-dude sergeants in the unit I sometimes found myself ‘volunteered’ to run ladder volleyball competitions (department against department, of course) in tandem with company-wide beachside cookouts.

I had to bring food just like all the other NCOs and officers, but I also had to make sure all the gear was grabbed from MWR for the volleyball and get the setup and organization done, run around getting things squared away, etc. I didn’t want to stick myself with a dish that would take a lot of nursemaiding, in case shit came up that pulled me away.

There is no excuse for failing in a task, even bringing a dish to a potluck picnic type thang. If your food sucks, you don’t get to whine, “But Gunny, I had to go get Motor T and Supply over to field four, I didn’t have time to stir the jambalaya, it’s not my fault, waah.”

No, I had to anticipate what was likely to happen, and plan accordingly. My friends, sing along with me the same old song, “Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.”

Ah, the classics never go out of style.

So, since the first lesson is “no plan survives contact with the enemy”, I had to anticipate that no matter how well organized I had the events, shit would come up that would drag me away from my dish. I had to have something that would feed a lot of Marines and also take very little of my time during the actual competition and events.

A ‘fire and forget’ meal, if you will.

This, then, was my self-directed mission. To come up with a dish that would be damn tasty (pride is on the line here, you don’t just half-ass anything in the Marines, even a meal. Dear lord, especially a meal.), feed a big crew, be easy to transport, and take however long it took to prep but require very little attention once game time came around so I’d be free to run around watching teams and keeping track of the ladder match-ups.

This was my solution;

Bacon-Wrapped Brown Sugar Devil Dogs

In short form, what you’re doing is taking bacon, wrapping it around mini-sausages, and then putting them in a crock pot a layer at a time, covering each layer in brown sugar.

Oh, yeah.

The tools you’ll need:

A ‘really big’ crock pot or slow cooker and some tongs.  That’s it. You can use a regular sized or small crock pot, of course, but you’ll fit in less sausages, and that’s a sad thing. I prefer the oval style crock pots. You’ll see why later.

The ingredients you’ll need;

3 pounds of regular-cut smoked bacon, what countries other than the US might call ‘breakfast bacon’.
1 large box of brown sugar.
3 packages of mini-sausages, the precooked kind that in the US we commonly call “Lil’ Smokies”.
1 package wood toothpicks OR wooden satay skewers.

How to prep;

Cut the bacon strips into halves or thirds, depending on the bacon. The goal is to have a piece of uncooked bacon just long enough to wrap around the circumference of the mini-sausage, overlapping a little bit.

Lay out the ingredients like a production line; a bowl of mini-sausages, a pile of bacon pieces, a pile of toothpicks (or skewers) and the crock pot. Keep the brown sugar in a box to the side.

Take a mini-sausage, wrap a piece of bacon around it, pin in place with a toothpick all the way through, and put in the crock pot. The toothpick should hold the bacon on the mini-sausage.

Long wooden toothpicks work well for this, because they extend far enough through the mini-sausage to make it hard for the bacon to slide off while cooking.

Pro Tip, over time I started using wooden satay skewers instead of toothpicks, with multiple bacon-wrapped mini-sausages on each skewer. It works very, very, VERY well, especially since the skewers have less tendency to stick to each other in the pot like masses of toothpicks do. The drawback is, they are best used when you have an oval-style crock pot to let them all lay flat. Most crock pots are the round style and it’s hard to get the skewers to fill it in even layers.

Place the bacon-wrapped mini-sausages in the crock pot until you’ve got a solid layer, then cover that layer with brown sugar.

Keep repeating this, make another layer and cover with brown sugar, until the pot is mostly full of layers with brown sugar covering the top. Then put the lid on and get cooking.

How to cook;

Cook in the crock pot on high about 4 to 5 hours.

Walk away, you’re done. Hell yes!

The important thing to remember is the mini-sausages were already cooked when you put them in, and will just get better the longer they steep in hot brown sugar/bacon fat.

Note I didn’t say they would get healthier. If your health is a concern to you, you should have stopped reading this a long, long time ago. Don’t just walk away, take your granola-eating bran-munching low fat ass and RUN AWAY RUN AWAY NOW.

As the dish cooks, the bacon cooks off, the fat and juices blend with the brown sugar to create a sauce you wouldn’t believe, and all of this just… it just gets better and better over time without your having to do anything. You don’t even have to stir it, since the cover keeps all the moisture in the pot to rain down on the top layers, forming a crust.

You’ll be able to tell they’re done when all the bacon is fully cooked through on the top layers. If the top is done, the bottom layers are good to go.

I would spend the night before prepping it all, then leave the pot cooking all night long. Unplug, carry to the beach, set to ‘warm’ with tongs on the side to fish ’em out of the pot, and walk away, mission accomplished.

I hope the next time you have a get together and your thoughts turn to bacon, you’ll keep this treat in mind!

Thank you for your help!

For everyone who pounced on the voting last night, you have my thanks and a hearty “well done!”

While it’s true that the poll was shut down as a tie, and it’s unclear how things will turn out, I think that what you folks did was amazing.

The fact is, the voting was stagnant in that contest for a long time. While it ended in a tie last night, it didn’t finish with a lackluster showing. Thanks to you, there was some seriously dramatic moments last night.

The contest poll, after being open for months, started in the low twenties last night. In just a few hours, you pushed it to 45 votes, and inspired the other contestant to rise to meet the challenge.

I don’t know where the votes came from for the other contestant, but I know if I were the one running the contest, and I was the one who stated publicly that the purpose of the contest was to increase pageviews and drive traffic to my website, then mission darn well accomplished. You guys rock!

For Jessica, I haven’t spoken with her yet today, but I know her well enough to think that just having had your support in this, and the kind comments some of you have made concerning her video, will mean a great deal. I’m sure she’s upset at how it all ended, but at least it’s over. Err, oh wait. Tie. Right. Ah well, at least it’s out of our hands.

If there is anyone I feel bad for, it is the third contestant, Kristen, who only had one vote. That has to hurt. And by hurt, I mean suck really, really bad.

Thank you again everyone, I really appreciate the effort you made, and I hope that your day and week go by swimmingly.

You know, swimmingly. Like, don’t stop or you’ll sink, man.

Asking for some Emergency Mobilization

I apologize for the last minute nature of this request, but I am asking for your help in a very personal matter.

I am asking for you to vote in a poll/contest.

I completely understand if you don’t want to, but I really hope you will, and if you do, the sad thing is it pretty much has to happen tonight. Like, right now.

Here is the situation.

There is a website called Violaman.com

Violaman.com is a website devoted to encouraging the play of and passion for violas. There are forums and discussions devoted to the viola, and all things said it is a nice website run for those who are already devoted to the viola as a musical instrument, and they also try and encourage more people to pick up the viola and play for the first time.

Now, a while back in January, violaman.com started a contest, where people could submit a video they created themselves into a contest, and the most popular video as determined by a poll on the sidebar of the violaman.com website by a certain time would win an actual viola.

Of course, that final day is today. The last chance for votes is tonight.

Here we come to the personal part.

My brother-in-laws’ daughter, Jessica, is a college student currently studying her tail off to be a veterinarian here in Minnesota. She works full time to support herself and pay for her schooling, and while I have never personally been a struggling student, Cassie was, and I think a lot of you who I consider my friends know full well what that’s like.

Jessica, besides fulfilling her dream of studying to be a veterinarian, is also passionate about the viola. She played one in band for years, is ardent enough in her love of the instrument to be a member of the violaman.com website.

As you can imagine, she can’t really afford one of her own. For Jessica, this contest seemed like the perfect opportunity to try and earn one through her creativity and let her passion shine through.

She created a video for the contest using claymation, and submitted it back in January.

The contest ends tonight, yes tonight, and she is currently not doing very well.

I am only JUST NOW finding out that Jessica, who is really, gotta say, hellaciously smart and creative and hard working, was doing any of this. I had no clue that she was trying to unleash the power of the internet and friends and reach out to those who might cheer her on and so forth.

Yes, I know. You see, I am family, but this was one of those ‘word of mouth friends and family on Facebook’ things, and of course everyone just assumed someone else had mentioned it to me.

I’m not on Facebook. Go figure. I had no idea.

As you know, I don’t really know anybody on the internet, and there is no way I could find a friend or two to vote and help out. Oh, of course not. Sigh.

Now, it can be hard to find where the stuff about the contest actually IS on the violaman.com website. It seems in earnest, but for example it will be hard for people to judge and vote for Jessica, since over the last few months her entry got, well, no longer where it’s easy to find out of the three contestants.

That’s right, Jessica is one of THREE final contestants, but you can[‘t easily find her video to judge it on it’s merits.

I can help you with that. Here is the video Jessica created on her own for the contest;

The contest rules are supposed to be on the site somewhere, but it boils down that, in order to vote, you have to register as a member, and then you can vote once and only once on the poll on the side. You can’t vote more than once per email address OR IP address. This isn’t a contest to try and spoof the poll, it’s a simple “I liked this better so here is my one vote” situation.

I ask of you to watch the video Jessica made for the contest, and if you like it, I hope you will go to the violaman.com website, register, and then vote for Jessica in the poll.

I really, really would appreciate it. This would mean a lot to me.

Remember, please only vote once. But, and I’m serious here, if you watch the video and like it, please vote.

Thank you all for your time.

 

The Annals of Awesome

Welcome to an entry in what I am going to call The Annals of Awesome™.

I came home tonight and asked Cassie what she might have been thinking for dinner. Her reply was, “I was thinking quesadillas and soup. We still have half a pound of bacon, so I thought we could fry up the bacon and add that in for…. bacon and cheese quesadillas.”

Crunchy bacon and delicious melted cheese in a grilled flour tortilla?

Oh yeah. 

“Dear”, I said afterwards, “These quesadillas are five star. At least.”

She just looked at me with a serious expression, and replied, “You can’t rate food five star when bacon is involved. It skews the results. I could take ice cream, sprinkle bacon on top and drizzle with strawberry sauce and caramel and you’d call it five star.”

To which my jaw dropped, and I made dot noises like this, “…..”

Ice cream with bacon, strawberry sauce and caramel?

GENIUS!

Mug of Coffee Pleasure +5

I have an announcement to make!

I have attained another level in my ‘adult’ base class by becoming a strong adopter of hot morning beverages.

In other words, I now drink coffee more than anything else, all morning long. Just like my parents, and my grandparents, and so forth.

Now, my beverage of choice is coffee, but I’m not going to be elitist about this. While I myself haven’t gone for one of the prestige classes built around Latte or Chai Tea, and I haven’t taken the disadvantage “Expensive Name Brand Vendor Only” in order to qualify for a higher social standing prestige class, I can appreciate what a delightfully diverse culture the hot morning beverage crowd has become.

Still. For me, it’s all about the coffee.

Coffee like you get in the generic can, with the color dot that says “not too strong, not too light, straight down the middle like a wuss afraid to fight”.

I’m interested in branching out, I keep an open mind. I’m not prejudiced, I like experimenting with the occasional Celestial Seasonings blend, a Mocha or a Latte, just for a taste of something different.

Seasonal coffees like Pumpkin Spice on a cold winter morning, mmmmm, yummy.

I found the Cinnamon-flavored coffee was amazing. It won my heart, yes it did.

I went back to get cases to stock up, only to find it gone without a trace. No location code, no shelf space, and the store has never carried it again.

It has become the Coffee That Must Not Be Named. Truly, it’s flavor was good, but now that I cannot have it, it has become that most exquisite of tastes, exotic and mysterious, never to be equalled.

I think, in fact, that the reason it was pulled was because it was too seductive.

It posed a threat to our modern American way of life. Homeland Security labeled cinnamon coffee a terrorist threat, and took it away, never to be seen again. If you listen close, you can hear the rubber hoses beat the beans and smell the grounds burn under the glare of the high-intensity lights.

Coffee that good? Too dangerous for mere mortals to comprehend or consume without terrifying effects.

I don’t like to think on the horrors that poor coffee may be suffering in a cell in Gitmo.

Instead, I like to think that the cinnamon coffee I sampled and now desire above all other blends was destined for the hallowed halls of Asgard, and it was a simple UPS sorting error that sent it to lowly Aldi’s Store #78545 instead.

A terrible fate may have been averted in the nick of time. Who could say what wonders or terrors my typing fingers may have bashed out under it’s divine influence?

The world will never know. The world was not MEANT to know!

Whew! Crisis averted.

Wait.

Oh, right. Coffee.

I be drinking coffee, and by coffee I mean a hot brew. I do not drink chilled coffee. To me, chilled coffee is what happens when you’re writing a long blog post, bring the cup up to take a sip, and make a face. Blech! Cold coffee. Shudder.

Nothing for it then but to prove geek cred by applying microwave radiation directly on tepid liquid, infusing pure, raw power into my beverage, power born of SCIENCE!

This post is not meant to be a passionate statement about coffee. That’s a bonus.

No, this is meant to be a message for all those like me who delight in the drinking of a nice, hot drink now and then.

While my hero Jack Reacher has his own thoughts on the perfect vessel to drink coffee from, what I like is a heavy ceramic mug, thick walled and oversized.

When we visited Walt Disney World, I saw the perfect mug, and carefully carted it back intact to our home on the other side of the country.

I have now been testing this mug. I’m not gonna endorse a mug until I’ve put it through it’s paces.

Well, I’m here to tell you, this mug is the cats meow.

I happily present to you, the Tigger Coffee Mug.

Now, I understand your concern when you see the words “oversized”.

Yeah right, heard that one before. What, it can hold a whole extra teaspoon? I need the ounces to be weighty, I have typing to do!

Allow me to reassure you. It is, indeed, oversized.

Here is my mug next to my other beverage of choice for the purposes of comparison.

There. That sucker will EAT the mountain dew can. Step off, dew, You’ve been warned.

So there you have it, my friends. When you’ve got a payload as powerful as coffee, shouldn’t you have a delivery system that shows the world you are SERIOUS about what you do?

Of course you should. 🙂