The Curious Death of Mike Connell

Posted on December 21st, 2008 in Commentary by EngineerBoy

Before this week I’d never hear of Mike Connell – he’s a Republican IT guru who had recently been subpoenaed to testify in federal court about alleged rigging of the 2004 presidential election.  Mr. Connell was killed this past Friday when his small plane crashed with him at the controls.

Curiously, Mr. Connell had requested protection because he had felt threatened by the powers that be that either didn’t want him to testify and/or who wanted him to take the fall.  It appears that Mr. Connell had decided to “tell-all”, but never got the chance.  More curiously, he had reportedly recently abaonded several other flights due to his concerns that his plane had been tampered with and was unsafe to fly.

And most curious of all is the complete lack of any coverage of this story by the big media outlets.  The only semi-real story about the suspicous details of his death is actually a press release, not a news story.

Now, I do not claim to know what happened – the group issuing the press release could simply be trying to stir the pot, and their may be nothing more to this story than strange timing.  However, given the progression of events it certainly looks and smells suspicious, and certainly worthy of coverage by the MSM, if for no other reason than to mock the “blogosphere” for focusing on such a non-story.

But so far, nothing.  I’ll be interested to see if the Monday news cycle brings more focus onto this story.

Tell your friends.

Christmas Dispirit

Posted on December 14th, 2008 in Brenham,Commentary,Product Reviews by EngineerBoy

Build It By Yourself, We Won't Help

We were doing some Christmas decorating on the outside of the house, and it turned out we needed a couple of things to finish off the process – like one last string of icicle lights, green extension cords, stakes to hold down a big snowman and nutcracker, etc, etc – typical Christmas stuff, in other words.  So we headed out to Lowe Depot, as we like to call it, as our town has a Lowes and a Home Depot across the street from each other, and we typically use them interchangeably and as alternates when we can’t find what we want at one or the other.

Today is Sunday, December 14, 2008 – Christmas is still eleven days away.  We had noticed that both of these stores had started putting out their Christmas merchandise before Halloween, if you can believe that.  Well, today, fully eleven days before Christmas, we were surprised to find – at both stores – that the Christmas merchandise was already being taken down and replaced with regular hardware and gardening stuff.  In both stores the “Christmas Section” was a pathetic little cluster of huddled, leftover crap.

Now, I’m a realist and I understand we were buying this last-minute stuff late in the season, but this wasn’t just slim pickings, this was the store actively taking down the Christmas stuff and getting it out of the way.  When you couple with with the pre-Halloween setup of the Christmas stuff, and we now have a “Christmas Season” that, at least from a retail perspective, runs from before Halloween up until mid-December, then gets shoved out of the way before it can become inconvenient, or something.

It was very dispiriting.  I mean, I know Christmas has a commercial aspect, but this is ridiculous.  Do they really need to be that coldly calculating as to start taking down the Christmas merchandise before Christmas?  I mean, shouldn’t they have healthy sales of the merchandise until at least New Years?  Don’t “The Holidays” equate to Christmas + New Years?  Are they trying to avoid having to sell the stuff at a discount after Christmas?

Sad.

Homemade Caramel Corn Recipe

Posted on December 14th, 2008 in Recipes by EngineerBoy
Look Out, Teeth!

Look Out, Teeth!

So for that last few weeks I’ve been having a craving for some nice, tasty caramel corn.  Now, when it comes to this confection I’m a purist – I don’t like anything in it but the popcorn and the coating, no nuts, no nothing else.  And that’s really hard to find at a store.  So I finally broke down tonight and made some at home, for the very first time, too.

The recipe is a mash-up of several recipes I found on the tubernets, and it goes like this:

Ingredients
6-7 quarts of air-popped popcorn
1 1/2 sticks of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Salt to taste

Process
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Make the popcorn in an air popper, then put it into a large roasting pan and put it in the oven while making the coating.

To make the coating, combine the butter, sugar, honey, and corn syrup in a tall pot and heat over medium-high heat until it boils, stirring constantly.  Reduce the heat a little but keep it boiling, and let it boil without stirring it for five more minutes – it’ll get kind of bubbly and frothy.

Remove the syrup from the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda.  The baking soda will make it foam up even more, so keep stirring until it settles back down a little bit.  Take the popcorn out of the oven and turn the heat in the oven up to 250 degrees.

Using a ladle or large spoon, drizzle about 1/3 of the syrup over the popcorn, then use a couple of big spoons to stir it up.  Repeat this process 2 more times, adding 1/3 more of the syrup each time, until all the syrup is on the popcorn.  Sprinkle some salt over the popcorn for the final stir, then place in the oven for 75 minutes, taking it out to stir it up every 15 minutes.  When you stir it, make sure to bring up the popcorn/syrup from the bottom and also to break up any large chunks of popcorn.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes before eating.  You can eat it right out of the oven if you like, but it’ll be kind of sticky and gooey (not to mention hot).  After 20-30 minutes it will be more like what you expect from caramel corn, with individual pieces that mostly don’t stick together.

I will state, unequivocally, that this recipe resulted in the tastiest, most savory caramel corn that I have ever eaten.  Enjoy.