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Monday, May 28, 2012

Wishing You a Solemn Memorial Day

"I'm more than willing to bet that my forefathers, family, and friends did not fight and die for the right to save a few dollars while at the local merchant."

Greetings and peace to everyone this solemn day.  For it was given to us as a chance to place the usual aside and think about the freedoms we have earned and the price that had been paid.

Arlington National Cemetary
Credit:  Christian Johnson,

No.  No barrage of words this day.  It belongs to that friend, acquaintance or family member who gave the ultimate sacrifice when performing duties for this great country of ours.  Memorial Day has been set aside to remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

It doesn't mean that you can't go to a race, have a family picnic or enjoy yourself.  But, please remember what price was paid to allow you the privilege to do so.  Stay happy and be thankful my friend.

Hi-dee hi-dee holidays-have-a-purpose-ho my friend.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chucky, The Government, and The Passport

"It would be funny if it were not my hard-earned tax dollars at work."

Good day my friend!  May this be nothing short of a spectacular day for you, me and everyone else out there.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the story you're about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent (and guilty alike)."  Chucky needs a passport for his new job.  This is a short tale of those efforts so far.  "Just the facts, ma'am."
  • He fills out the required form online and prints it.
  • He goes to Costco Warehouse Club and gets a passport photo taken.
  • He finds his original birth certificate ~ signed, embossed and bona fide.  (It's on the side of that box that he arrived in.)
  • He makes certain that his valid driver's license is in his wallet.
  • He asks Tiffany for a blank check as she carries the checkbook.
  • As required by the instructions, he photo copies front and back of both birth certificate and driver's license.
  • He gathers all of the required information.
  • He goes to work.
  • An hour afterwards, he leaves the office for the nearest passport office ~ county clerk's office.
  • He walks up the courthouse steps.
  • Oops!  Sign says no sharp devices.
  • He walks back to the car and removes a can opener on his key chain and removes a pocket knife & fingernail clippers from his pocket.
  • Enters the court house and grabs a number.
  • Looks up at "Now Serving" video monitor.  What's that?  Uh-oh... This is not good.  A small banner is scrolling along the bottom that reads, "It may take an excessive amount of time for us to provide service due to recent budget cutbacks."  Now, I ask you... If this were a private business would I be seeing this disclaimer???
  • Wow!  Must be my lucky ducky day.  Within 5-minutes my number is called.  I can enter Room #2 now.  The robotic speaker asks that Number 123456, my number, please proceed to Window #3.  Psst... Although there appear to be eight windows in Room #2, only three of them are being manned. Recent budget cutbacks you know.
  • I hand over the paperwork to the clerk.
  • She hands back my photocopies.
  • "That will be $110.00 please."
  • "I thought that I was supposed to provide a photo copy of my birth certificate?" I ask when she hands back my photo copies.
  • "No sir.  I submit the original and they'll mail it back to you."
  • I write out the check for one hundred ten and no/100 and hand it through the window to the clerk.
  • "Oh?  I see that you wanted the passport and the book. That's $140.00, not $110.00"
  • "Ma'm, I only have the one check that I brought with me."
  • "That's okay" she said as she handed it back.  "You can mark the changes on the check."
  • So I changed from "$110.00" to "$110.00 $140.00" and from "One hundred ten" to "One hundred ten forty", initialing both changes.  I hand it back to her.
  • She has me take an oath and hands me the passport form to sign.
  • I sign the form and hand it back to her.
  • "No!"  "You can't use blue ink."  She hands it back to me.
  • I re-sign using black ink (borrow her pen) and hand it back to her.
  • Instead of single-striking out the blue signature she scribbles, scratches, and obliterates the blue signature so that it is now unrecognizable.  Wonder what the State Department will think happened here?  A voice in my head speaks, "Looks like a forgery to me."
  • "There's a $26.00 processing fee."
  • "I don't suppose that you take American Express, do you?"
  • "No sir.  We don't."
  • So I reached in my wallet, pulled out my VISA card and passed it through the window.
  • "Excuse me.  We don't take VISA sir."
  • "Is American Express okay?" I ask wondering what planet I am living on.
  • "Yes sir.  We take American Express but there's an additional $2.99 credit card processing fee."
  • Inside my tiny little mind I'm mumbling to myself, "Sure lady.  Go ahead.  Why not ask for another $100.00?  After all, I'm breathing the air in this room and that oughta cost me something."
  • So ~ $169.99, one revised check, one obliterated passport form and an original birth certificate later, I am a free 4-foot tall plastic bubble-headed man.  I'm outta there!  Do you think that it's over?

Hi-dee hi-dee sometimes-you-simply-have-to-laugh-at-the-absurdity-of-it-all-ho my friend.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wine Tasting - Luna di Luna Sangiovese Merlot 2009

"Sometimes you just need to take a deep breathe and remember that it's the little things in life that makes each day so special.  Those are the memories which you're most apt to remember and cherish."

Hello friend!  I hope that you have a very pleasant day and that when it is all said and done, you're happy to have lived it to its fullest.

Note:  Our thoughts and well wishes are extended to the people of Northern Italy struck by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake over the weekend.

Yes.  Another one of those $5.00 bottles where Andy at Eat More Produce simply went loco to make some room for some new vino visitors.  The old vino must go!  Lucky Chucky & Thrifty Tiffany were lucky enough to snatch a bottle of this gem.

Chucky's Point Score:  88
Tiffany's Point Score:  92

Luna di Luna Sangiovese Merlot 2009

Appellation:  Bardolino, Italy
Indicazione geographica tipica:  Umbria
Grape Varietal(s):  70% Sangiovese & 30% Merlot
Price:  $5.00 at Eat More Produce 
Vintage:  2009
Producer:  Ca'Montini
Alcohol:  13.0%

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Sheet

Chucky's Notes:  "A tasty blend but the bouquet (nose) doesn't quite match the flavors on my palate.  A wee bit bitter initial taste but it quickly smooths to changing tastes in my mouth.  Bold red fruits grab you and don't simply let go.  Each sip tastes even better than the last."

Tiffany's Tasting Sheet

Tiffany's Notes:  "Wow!  Bouquet very pleasant rich fruitiness, even delivers more of a punch on the palate!  Love the elegant fruits complimented with an inviting spiciness on my tongue!  Perfect off dry with even, an ever so slight sweetness.  This is perfection to my senses!  Love it!  :)"

From the label:

"A passionate and expressive wine that's sophisticated yet flirty and loves being shared with friends.  Full and persistent with ripe fruits, this contemporary Luna di Luna blend of Sangiovese and Merlot is meticulously crafted for everyday enjoyment."

We truly did not know what to expect.  It's an unusual red bottle but it's a predominately Sangiovese.  This means one thing to me... an Italian red wine.  It simply can't be bad vino I assured myself.

Guess what?  We were right!  It's delicious grape nectar in a bottle.  A somewhat classic Sangiovese with a Merlot twist, if you will.  Our tasting yet once again confirms my belief that there simply isn't such a thing as a bad red Italian table wine.  Besides, it's a whole heckuva lot of fun searching for it should it be out there.

Hi-dee hi-dee red-bottles-are-to-men-what-red-shoes-are-to-ladies-ho my friend?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wine Tasting - Viña Eguía Rioja Reserva 2007

"People who talk to themselves aren't crazy.  They just happen to be talking to the most intelligent person that they know!"

I shed wishes of good will to you this fine day my friend!  This day shall exist but only once in anyone's lifetime.  Why not make it exceptional?

Since tasting the Marques de Riscal Riojoa Reserva 1998 review the other day, Tiffany & I have had a yearning for another Rioja Reserva.  Guess what we found at our local Costco Warehouse Club this afternoon?  I'll give you some clues.  It was a Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain and it was a Reserva!  "Hot diggity dawg!"

Chucky's Point Score:  94
Tiffany's Point Score:  91

Viña Eguía Rioja Reserva 2007

Appellation:  Elciego, Rioja, Spain
Denominación de Origen Calificada (D.O.C. Qualified designation of origin):  Rijoa
Grape Varietal(s):  100% Tempranillo
Price:  $9.00 at Costco Warehouse Club
Rated:  92 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, 12/15/2011
Vintage:  2007
Alcohol:  13.5%

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Sheet

Chucky's Notes:  "An absolute and unequivocal WOW!  A most wonderfully balanced vino with every aspect of a perfect glass of wine.  The taste on my palate matches aromas on my nose.  I smelled and expected something great and this Rioja delivered. Nice strong tannins, lingering tastes in my mouth and beautiful windows clinging to the side of my glass.  I will be buying more of this wine!"

Tiffany's Tasting Sheet

Tiffany's Notes:  "Tannins are a little higher than I normally prefer and this Rioja seems a bit young, but this is a very nice elegant wine.  Love the full fruity bouquet of cherry, which delivers on my palate.  I would like to buy another bottle and keep for a year or two to see how it ages!"

From the label:

"Made from selected Tempranillo grapes from our best vineyards.  After a temperature controlled fermentation, 24 months ageing in American and French oak barrels and final process of bottle maturation in our cellars, we attain this fine and balanced wine.

Bright cherry red in colour.  Displays a deep complexity of ripe red fruits, spices, tobacco and liquorice very well balanced.  Warm, complex and elegant in the palate with a long and velvety aftertaste.  Ideal to serve with all types of meat dishes, stews and matured cheese."

Viña Eguía, Rioja, Spain

If you're looking for an affordable elegant rich red wine, have I got a wine for you!  Tiffany and I were so darned lucky to be walking the isles of Costco and her spotting this vino.  I will agree with Tiffany and shall look forward to buying and ageing another bottle.  Perhaps four or five more years in the bottle?  It's certainly tannin enough to hold up while I struggle and wait to open the next bottle.

Hi-dee hi-dee is-it-me-or-do-they-simply-keep-getting-better-n-better-ho my friend?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Wine Tasting - French Maid Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

"Every day is your birthday.  Instead of an annual celebration, it's simply a daily celebration."

Salutations and cordial greetings of the sincerest kind my friend.  May this day bring a smile upon your face and pleasant thoughts in your memory.

Tiffany & I had maid service the other day.  However, this was a French Maid who arrived in a green bottle with a red label. This was another $5.00 mark-down from Eat More ProduceAndy is trying to make room for some new vino choices and has to make some room.  If it's been sitting around for some time, it's time to mark it down from their already ridiculously low prices.  Lucky Chucky, thrifty Tiffany!

Chucky's Point Score:  87
Tiffany's Point Score:  88

French Maid Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Appellation:  Vin de Pays D'Oc, France
Grape Varietal(s):  100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Price:  $5.00 at Eat More Produce
Vintage:  2010
Producer:  French Maid
Alcohol:  13.0%

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Sheet

Chucky's Notes:  "The initial indication on my nose is the smell of atypical French Cab.  The initial taste onto my palate confirms this and proves this to be a well-balanced wine.  Delicious elegant berry delivers a smoky after taste.  Outstanding!  Trust me... You will not find a nice Cab at $5.00.  :)  The epitome of this Cab is terrior, terrior, terrior."

Tiffany's Tasting Sheet

Tiffany's Notes:  "Bouquet is somewhat soft, but inviting!  Love the eucalyptus on the nose.  Initial sip I found the tannins to be high although this wind finishes with a delicious dark fruitiness!  Each sip became smoother & smoother. What a delightful bargain once again from 'Eat More Produce'!"

From the label:

"Cabernet Sauvignon... so noble, proud and temptingly rich especially when indulged by the rich dark soils of the south of France, long satisfying winters and luxurious summers with cool Mediterranean breezes.  Carefully nurtured from vine to bottle, French Maid has blossomed into a stunning expression of what the French call terroir... and what we cal Ooh-La-La."

I'll be honest my friend.  Tiffany and I did not find French Maid Cab anything extraordinary.  But, what might one expect from a wine at this price point?  That being said, it was indeed a Cabernet Sauvignon worthy of your hard-earned dollars.  It is tasty, has a classic Old World taste on the palate, and was quite inviting.

I don't wish my words to become misconstrued.  If I were to hold a party I would have no reservations serving this vino to my friends and family.  Tiffany and I both said during our taste testing, "This would make a fabulous house wine for a restaurant!"

Hi-dee hi-dee Cab-is-fab-ho my friend.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wine Tasting - Ernst Gouws & Co. Pinotage 2008

"Wonderful days don't simply happen.  Usually they're made."

Hello everyone!  It's my sincerest wish that you have nothing short of an exceptional day.  Why exceptional?  Well... why not?

This wasn't a wine sampling.  Well... actually it wasn't a sampling at all since we each had two glasses.  But, this was more of a wine treat.

Chucky's Point Score:  86
Tiffany's Point Score:  92

Ernst Gouws & Co Pinotage 2008

Grape Varietal(s):  100% Pinotage
Price:  $5.00 at Eat More Produce
Vintage:  2008
Producer:  Ernst & Co.
Alcohol:  14.0%

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Sheet

Chucky's Notes:  "Absolutely incredible and tasty wine at this price!  It's not a bargain... it's a steal.  The bouquet seems timid and mild but the taste pounces upon you like a vegetarian in a yogurt shop!  A deliciously fruity blend of bold and soft red notes.  Tannins are nicely mild and luscious remnants hang around in my mouth."

Tiffany's Tasting Sheet

Tiffany's Notes:  "Wow!  Love, love, love it!  I love the tar and powerful red fruits on bouquet, which really made me want to dive into the glass for a nice swim.  Tannins are perfect with a super smooth bold fruity finish!  Each sip brings out the fruits and smoothness!  I sure hope Chucky will fill up my empty glass!"

From the label:

"For four generations, the Gouws family has been linked to the fine art of wine making.  Just as a fine artwork bears the signature of its creator, so too does our family's flagship wine.  Ernst Gouws & Co will always pay homage to our heritage, saluting the traditions of our forefathers."

This is not a good wine.  This is a great one!  I know that my score seems a little lower than I usually rate the wines but the tallied number is quite misleading.  After it was all said and done and when the bottle was empty, Tiffany and I went back to Eat More Produce.  But, we were too late.  Somebody beat us to the punch.  No more bottles of them gem to be had.  This was a close-out (let's get rid of these last bottles) special.  Andy had gone loco and marked many, many case remnants at $5.00 per bottle.  Lucky Chucky!  Lucky Tiffany!

This Pinotage was delicious and elegant.  It passed an Old World charm onto our palate.  Tiffany and I immediately commented to each other what an under-rated grape varietal this is.  We also concurred that blind taste testing might lead one to believe this to be a $40+ bottle of vino.  Yes my friend... It was that good.

Hi-dee hi-dee I-should-have-bought-more-than-one-bottle-ho my friend.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Job Change Update

"How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?  I dunno.  And... Tell me why I'd be just sitting around spying on the woodchuck chucking?  Sounds a wee bit perverted if you ask me."

May the bluebirds of happiness flutter about you and poop happy-happy joy-joy upon you!  Yeah... I wish you to have this good of a day.  "Hey!"  "Just brush it off (with a paper towel sheet), keep a smile upon your face, and keep on moving onward."

Thought that I'd take a quick break to update you on week #2 of my new job.  In two words, "Love it!"  I wake up every morning now knowing that I am the luckiest man alive.  The perfect wife, the perfect pet, and the perfect job.

What I see when I look
at myself in the mirror

Besides arriving to find that everyone is knowledgeable, friendly and hard working; I find that the 22-mile trek across town isn't as bad as I had feared.  What I did not foresee is that I travel against the traffic going and returning from work.  I basically have but a single intersection near the interstate where things periodically back up.  I'm finding the travel relaxing.  Approximately 45-minutes of quiet traffic-free roads.  My only true obstacles are school buses and I will eventually learn their schedules to avoid them.

2012 Honda Civic Hybrid

The new Honda Civic Hybrid?  Our first fill-up exceeded my expectations.  I calculated 45.6 miles per gallon.  And, that's primarily stop and go city traffic.  It's EPA rated as 44 mpg city and 44 mpg highway.  Unless something severely changes it looks like my second fill-up may average somewhere towards 49 to 50 mpg!  It's comfortable, has a lot of pep, and is truly easy on the wallet.


The job?  They had me taking on tasks by day #4.  There is still an awful lot to learn but most things are coming easy to learn.  The infrastructure is quite similar to my prior job.  Instead of stinky yellow widgets I am working on fresh green widgets. Because I am in software support, I've basically got to learn every function in the company so that I am able to manage the ERP software package.  Guess what?  They have hired the right 4-foot tall red-headed plastic bubble-headed guy!

Hi-dee hi-dee I-have-finally-hit-employment-pay-dirt-ho my friend.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bird Island Makes the News!

"Just remember... Alligators are designed and born carnivores.  We humans?  We're designed deliciously differently."

Hello everybody!  Make your day be nothing but sunshine and sparkles.


Yes, my friends.  Tiffany and I are almost certain that this is our beloved Bird Island inside Triplet Lake.  Of course, our video is shot from the opposite side where we regularly stop, take out the camera, snap a few videos, chew on a few raisins, apply a little suntan oil, and relax.  I was shocked when I saw the gator video on our local news station.

Chucky & Tiffany video Bird Island on Triplet Lake

Me?  I just hope that the authorities left that poor gator alone.  After all, it's more his lake than mine.  We infringe upon nature and don't readily accept the nature our our surroundings.  And before you ask, no.  There are no public parks or swimming areas adjacent to Triplet Lake's shoreline.  However, there are about a dozen private properties.

Hi-dee hi-dee talk-about-a-nature-role-reversal-ho my friend?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wine Testing - Angeline Merlot Reserve 2010

"I don't 'hate' anybody.  There are simply some people who I like less than others."

I wish a plethora of pleasing events to you.  These events?  Let us call them seconds, okay?  I'll tell you what, I bequeath 86,400 of them to you.  Hey!  Don't get greedy, alright.  That seems like an ample amount for just one day doesn't it?

Tiffany and I consider ourselves so fortunate for so many things.  Among our thanks go one for whoever discovered wine.  Another thanks for whoever thought about bottling it.  Another for Eat More Produce for selling it at such wonderful prices!

Chucky's Point Score:  93
Tiffany's Point Score:  92

Angeline Merlot Reserve 2010

Appellation:  Sonoma, California
Grape Varietal(s):  100% Merlot
Price:  $13.99 (2 for $26) at Eat More Produce
Vintage:  2010
Alcohol:  13.9%

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Sheet

Chucky's Notes:  "This wine has nice windows clinging to the glass.  The aromas announce a big bold red forthcoming and the tastes on the palate scream 'Wow!'  Exquisite taste with lingering notes of the red wine spectrum.  Delicious!  This could be used as the 'special occasion' stuff.  I've always loved the complete Angeline line of wines but the Reserve truly stands out.  Bravo!"

Tiffany's Tasting Sheet

Tiffany's Notes:  "Wow!  Yet another fine pick from Eat More Produce.  Love the explosion of red & dark fruits on the bouquet followed by the same delivery on the palate.  Beautiful clingy windows left on the glass.  The wine has the perfect dryness without being too dry and goes down so smooth!  Very nice balance all around!"

A truly delicious nectar.  Tiffany and I were in deep dark red vino Heaven upon sipping the magical elixir within the glass walls of this bottle.  Each delicious sip was like a wonderful genie granting all three wishes at a single swallow.  Yes, my friend.  It was that delicious.

If you love the big bold deep dark reds, this one is for you.  I share this information in hopes that you might treat yourself and wander out and find a bottle.  Cheers!

Hi-dee hi-dee the-wines-sometimes-seem-to-get-better-and-better-ho my friend.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Simple & Quick Hello

"If life handed you lemons, were they sent COD?"

Hello everyone!  I hope that my greeting finds you well, healthy and enjoying what life has to offer.  Sometimes the best medicine is to simply stroll outside and take a walk through the woods or in a park.

I head into new job, new life day #3 this morning.  My prognosis so far?  Outstanding!  Simply outstanding!  It's beginning to scare me.  So far it has been exactly the place which I have been looking for (to work).

Great people, solid company, reputable company, terrific product, and I am able to learn a few new tricks along the way and rid myself of some of my brain rot.  I love the challenges!  And they've tossed me to the wolves so I'm off and running today.

My biggest challenge has been met.  I get it.  The business model and modus operandi make sense to me.  "Whew!"  What a relief.  <hehe>

Well folks... That's about it for today.  I haven't much to add right now but felt I owe you at least a few words.  I'll keep you posted, okay?

Hi-dee hi-dee there-are-job-gems-out-there-ho-my-friend.