Breaking a Broody Chicken

Until this year, I have never had an issue with a broody chicken. I have one new Olive Egger that has gone broody twice this summer. She is driving me crazy.

Wait, I better back up for some people. A broody chicken is one that is intent on hatching eggs. She will sit on the nest and not get off of it. In most cases, she will also steal eggs from other chickens and put them in her nest. A broody chicken doesn’t care that there isn’t a rooster and that the eggs aren’t fertile. They will often get very defensive of their nest and will peck, and hard, when you trying to pull eggs out from under them. In fact, even if there are no eggs under them, they will still continue to set on imaginary eggs.

Some of us don’t want them to hatch chicks, and we want them to get back to laying regularly, and some of us don’t have roosters because of local codes. So the real question is how to make them stop. If you don’t get them to stop, they will continue to set on the eggs (existent or not) and will starve themselves and suffer significant malnourishment. I have heard the following:

  1. Remove them from the nest and put them out in the run or yard and try to distract them with a treat of some kind. Basically, we are trying to get them off of the nest. You will have to repeat this many times, in most cases.
  2. Put them in some cool water. The idea with this is that it will cool off their underside and lower their body temperature which is caused by broodiness. Hopefully, it will snap them out of it and discourage them from sitting on the nest. This may need to be repeated several times.
  3. Chicken Jail is an option. Basically, you put your broody chicken in a small enclosure without a nest box. Many people use wire dog kennels. The idea is to make it impossible for her to sit down and spread herself out, comfortably. Our chicken jail is a small coop with the nesting box blocked off. To prevent the broody from trying to make a nest in the dirt, I put a sheet of plywood under it. After a couple of days, she gets paroled, but if she runs right back to the nest, she has her parole violated and gets two more days in jail. So far, two trips to jail has helped.
  4. Some people will just let it run its course by putting some fake eggs under the broody, and at 20-22 days, they will get some day old chicks and sneak them under the broody in the middle of the night. This may work, and it may result in the broody killing the chicks.
  5. The last option is to go out and get some fertilized eggs and just let nature take its course. What is ironic is that I have heard of many people scrambling for eggs only to put them under the broody and watch her get up and walk away and not return.

Good luck in getting your broody back into production.

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Chicken Coop and Run–Winterized

This is my first Winter with chickens. As previously discussed, they can be expensive when it comes to setting up, but they are a wonderful hobby for me.

Here is what I learned from the chicken raisers in Colorado:

  • Make sure there is enough space to keep stress low.
  • Sand in the coop and in the run is great for all year round, but especially Winter.
  • Sweet PDZ is great for the smell and is also good for the chickens’ health.
  • Food grade DE (diatomaceous earth) can help control parasites.
  • Heated water is a must unless you want to constantly go out and replace frozen water with warm water.
  • Keeping chickens dry is probably the most important concern.
  • Keeping chickens protected from predators is another very important concern.
  • Supplemental heat is not needed.
  • Air ventilation is important whether it is hot or cold.
  • Supplemental light is not needed.
  • Some breeds just won’t produce in Winter no matter what.

Space

In my city, Aurora, Colorado, we can have up to six hens (no roosters) with a permit, on lots larger than 20,000 square feel, we can have eight hens. Our city requirements are basically:

  • Coop (they refer to it as the house) must be at least 2 square feet per chicken of floor space.
  • The run, which must be attached to the house, must be at least 6 square feet or larger
  • The combined structure cannot be larger than 120 square feet.
  • The combined structure must be 15 feet or more from property lines unless the neighbor provides written permission for it to be closer.
  • Chickens must be secured in the house from dusk until dawn.

Obviously, the more space available, the better. The chickens love scratching around and eating bugs and grass and such.

What we did was build a run that is 8’ WP_20160323_17_21_08_Prowide by 12’ long by 6’ high. We actually went 6’ high to patch the privacy fence on the one side, and the other is 5’6” to give us a slope for rain and snow to drain off.  We then added a coop that we bought from Murdoch’s. I wish we had not purchased it, but, we have it, and it is doing its job.

The run is directly attached to our tuff shed, and is well anchored.

Yes, our chickens are spoiled.

Sand Floor

In general, many people feel that sand in the coop and in the run is great for all year round WP_20160323_17_20_27_Proas it allows any water (including chicken poop) to drain away easily and helps keep their feet dry. Sand is also fairly easy to rake clean of waste. I use a big cat litter scoop to clean through the sand on a regular basis.

Another benefit of sand is that it retains heat and it is a big benefit in the Winter.

As you can see, even though we had about 15 inches of snow, it is perfectly dry inside, and there is no mud or wet area inside the run.

I have heard from several people that the sand is nice in that it keeps their claws nicely trimmed, too. Think: Chicken Pedicure.

The Chicken Chick recommends construction sand vs play sand.

Sweet PDZ

This is a mineral that is marketed to horse stables. It controls odor by binding to ammonia and neutralizing it. The mineral also absorbs moisture. The mineral is available in granules or powder, but for chickens, granules are best. Powders can get cause respiratory issues for chickens.

Ammonia not only causes a great deal of the smell that attracts flies and the general smell, it also impacts respiratory health and egg production. 

The best way to use this mineral, in my opinion, is to mix it with the sand. Others use it in the poop trays below perches.

DE

DE is a fine powder that scratches the waxy shell of insects and parasites and causes them to dry up and die. I use it to kill off ant hills in my hard, for example, and it is not harmful to humans or animals. Make sure you get food grade DE, which is readily available.

I have heard some chicken raisers use a bit of DE is feed to keep internal parasites under control, but I only use it by putting down a bit in the areas where they enjoy their dust baths and I put some down in their nesting boxes under the pine shavings.

Heated Water

While it is only needed in Winter, the ability to provide a source of fresh water that doesn’tWaterer (2) get frozen is pretty vital to chickens. Of course, my dogs share their water with the chickens and expect the same in return. Smile

In my case, my chicken run has power available to it, so it is easy for me to just get a heated waterer and plug it in. We have power because we have our run butted up against a nice tough shed that has power. We have been pretty lucky in how some of our earlier decisions have helped out.

Keep Dry

OK, this sounds like common sense, but I have seen way too many chicken raisers that WP_20160324_12_08_10_Prodon’t provide a covered run area and some means of keeping blowing rain and snow out of the run.

Sure, chickens can get wet, and they will be fine. After all, they are outdoor animals. However, being wet takes away from their ability to keep themselves warm. One of the keys to our run was that we bought WP_20160324_12_08_29_Proclear poly roofing panels that are supported with 2×3 wood studs. So far, they have held up to a couple of really heavy snow storms. If I had to redo it, I would turn the 2×3’s on their side to provide even better support for the roofing panels.

We were also told that it is a good idea to staple some plastic sheeting on the sides of the run to keep out blowing rain and snow. I will take it off once the weather warms up, but it has certainly been a big benefit to the chickens.

I cleared off a corner to show the roofing. It was fairly cheap, and provides a great deal of additional warmth in the cold months.

Predators

Keeping chickens protected from predators is another very important concern. Of course, Dogmost of us recognize this, but I don’t think we all look at the most common predator for chickens: domestic dogs.

I thought we might lose a chicken to a hawk, a raccoon, or even a skunk, but I never thought about dogs being our biggest concern.

We lost one chicken to a friend’s dog (our fault for not watching over it) that just wanted to play with the chickens, and its prey drive kicked in.

We lost another chicken to a neighborhood dog that jumped our fence. It killed the poor bird and ate about a fourth of it. It also wounded two of our other chickens. This terrier jumped over a four foot fence into a neighbor’s yard, then jumped over another four foot fence into our yard.

We made a quick run to the parent’s house, and found him in our yard and piles of feathers everywhere. It was horrible.

Now, we have a 6’ high fence all around to help protect our hens from future disasters. My recommendations:

  • High fences around the yard.
  • Bushes and other cover that chickens can run under if there are hawks or eagles in the area and they need to run and hide.
  • Good strong hardware fabric (a little different than chicken wire).  Make sure that when you use this in your runs and coops that you it can extend into the ground a bit to help keep chickens safe from digging predators.
  • High roosts for the chickens to fly and jump to so they can evade ground predators.

Supplemental Heat

I never even thought about this being a danger, but I have seen too many reports of people having their coops catch fire, and also their houses.

Supplemental heat is not needed. I have to admit that I was not fully believing everyone, but common sense took over. There are small birds all around the neighborhood all Winter long. They can survive. What convinced me, though, was picking up one of my chickens on a day when it was about 4 degrees F outside. My fingers felt the warmth in the down and feathers. It was pretty clear that she was not cold, at all. In the worst nights, they would just all huddle together, and they stayed plenty warm.

What really sold me on them not needing additional heat was that my Rhode Island Reds were still laying eggs in the bitter cold. Granted, it wasn’t every day, but we were still getting eggs every other day from them.

Air Ventilation

This really seemed counter-intuitive to me. What do you mean, they need good air ventilation? Won’t that mean heat loss?

Yes, ventilation means heat loss, but most importantly, it also means that the humidity from their poop has a place to go. The moisture in the air is more detrimental than any heat loss that they might have from the air transfer with the outside.

Please note, this does not mean that drafts are OK. Ventilation is very different than drafts.

Supplemental Light

Those that support supplemental light say that chickens will lay more during the short days in the Winter. This is, somewhat, true.

The other side of the argument is that chickens should be allowed the time to recover from the stresses of egg production every now and then, and nature provides that natural break with the Winter months. Another reason for allowing chickens to reduce production in the Winter is that chickens only have so many eggs in them when hatched, and by forcing them to produce more during the Winter only reduces their laying lifetime.

I chose to go with nature’s plan.

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So You Want to be a Backyard Chicken Rancher

Yes, when people ask me what I do, I say that I am a rancher. I used to say I am a carpenter, because I don’t like to try to explain to everyone what I really do for a living.

Anyway, last year, my wife, referred to as “The Wife,” decided she wanted chickens. Since she really didn’t know if she could commit to keeping chickens, she made a deal to lease them for the season. This post is all about what we have spent and what we have gotten back.

Initial Cost: $450, which included a coop, two chickens, a bag of feed, and a bag of wood shavings , a bag of oyster shell, and a bag of grit.

Status: Two chickens, about 4 dozen eggs a month.

Next Purchases: $150. We decided that we really liked chickens and bought another small coop and two more chickens.

Status: Four chickens, and about 8 dozen eggs a month.

Chickens

Buying out the Lease: $40. We decided that we liked the first two chickens and didn’t want to give them back, so we bought out the lease for them. We did have to return the original coop, though.

New, Larger Coop: $300. At this point, we had four chickens, and decided that we needed a larger coop, so off we went to Murdoch’s.

Winterization: $400 or so. We built up a nice run with a heated waterer, sand for the base, hardware fabric all around, plastic roof panels, and plastic sheeting to provide more snow and wind protection.

First Chicken Loss: We had one of birds killed by a friend’s dog. It was a tough time, but we just kept reminding ourselves that it was just a chicken, and we expected to lose one over the first year to area hawks, foxes, or raccoons.

Status: Three chickens, and really slow production for them of about 2 dozen a month.

New Chicks: $65. I decided that it was Winter, and that if we started some new chicks, they would be mature early in the Spring, and we would get full production from them. I ordered three Easter Egger pullets (sexed by the hatchery). Wow, it was fun and we learned a great deal. One ended up being a rooster, so he was sent off to the farm.

Second Chicken Loss: A neighborhood dog got into the back yard and killed one of my new EE girls and wounded two of my other three chickens.

Status: Four chickens, one not laying yet. Still cold weather. About 2 dozen a month.

Fencing: $400. Thanks to the neighborhood dog, we had to raise the fence where it jumped over.

New Hens: $40. We bought two more hens from another chicken keeper that are about a year and a half old, and are semi-laying. The weather is warming up, and so is production.

Status: Six chickens and about 10 dozen eggs a month.

SUMMARY

TOTAL COST: $2,090 or so (I added the cost of feed and other consumables to the other costs)

TOTAL EGGS: Approx 850

Cost per Egg About $2.45, Cost per dozen $29.40

In all fairness, there are some very unusual costs involved in our case, and now that everything is all built up for the six birds, the only real cost that we have now is feed and some other consumables, which I estimate to be about $15 a month, so our future expectations would be a cost per egg for this coming season of about $2.50 per dozen.

We have loved every minute of owning chickens, and are very glad that we did it.

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Corporations and Taxes

As per our fearless leader, Barrack Obama, many corporations don’t pay their share of taxes. I guess he doesn’t understand all of the taxes paid, and also created by the economic activity of their presence in the US. It is kind of sad.

Let’s look at the taxes that are paid directly by these “dead-beat” corporations:

  • Property Taxes – These are paid by anyone that owns property such as land, improvements on the land, as well as furniture and equipment.
  • Licensing Fees – Company owned cars and other fees such as those paid for inspections and to pay for professional licenses for employees and officers.
  • Payroll Taxes – While most of these taxes are taken out of the employee’s pay, it is a tax that would not exist if the job didn’t exist. There are also some direct business taxes such as the company share of FICA/Social Security and unemployment taxes.
  • Sales Taxes – Yes, businesses buy things, like office supplies, furniture, and equipment and they must pay the sales taxes on those items.
  • Customs and Duties – Sometimes also know as tariffs, these taxes are paid when exporting and importing components and finished products.
  • Environmental Taxes – Also know as carbon emissions and pollution taxes.
  • Energy/Utilities Taxes – Ever notice the taxes on the power and water? Businesses pay them, too. Gas taxes? Of course, they pay those, too.
  • Tolls – Taxes paid for travel and shipping over certain roads or waterways.

Then, of course, there are all the taxes that are paid by the businesses that do business with them, like suppliers and services contractors and taxes paid by the employees that work for the company and have jobs because the company exists.

Yes, corporations pay taxes, lots of them, even in the cases where they declare income taxes in other countries and they get some tax breaks from local communities and States.

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Jim Garthwaite’s 1911 Class

Last week, I spent some vacation time and enjoyed a week in Watsontown, PA. Several months ago, I scheduled a class with Jim Garthwaite to learn how to build a 1911. The class was fantastic. I learned a few important steps and processes:WP_20150807_13_53_05_Pro

  • Tear down and evaluation
  • Fitting the frame and slide
  • Fitting a barrel
  • Fitting a barrel bushing
  • Fitting a grip safety
  • Fitting a thumb safety
  • Fitting the trigger components
  • Misc
  • Test firing
  • Checkering

Tear down and evaluation – I have broken down a 1911 many times over the years, and I have always used a different method than the one that Jim taught us. I have always removed the recoil spring plug, then the slide stop. Jim’s method is to remove the slide stop first, and to hold the slide so that the recoil spring is captured in the hand. This process has a few nice benefits, one is the ease of inspecting how the guide rod engages the barrel link lug, and another benefit is that the barrel can be removed along with the barrel bushing by moving the barrel bushing further down the barrel and away from where the barrel is thickest. This method takes away the stress on the barrel bushing during disassembly. Jim then showed how he goes through each part and looks at wear marksWP_20150807_13_00_53_Pro and looks for any machine marks that need to be cleaned up as well as any edges that need to be cleaned up because the original cuts were not completed.

Jim showed us how to properly identify metal injection molding (MIM) parts. The important concern with MIM parts is that they are OK to use for some components and should never be used for others. The hammer and hammer strut, to the right, are perfect examples. The circles on the hammer strut identify it as a MIM part. The hammer, itself, is tool steel. The hammer has significant stress put on it each time the gun is fired. The spots where it engages the sear must hold their shape and not wear easily. The hammer strut, doesn’t experience significant pressure on it, so it is not an issue if it is a MIM part.

Frame and Slide – While we didn’t actually do the work on our individual builds, Jim took some time to show us the process on another build that he was working on. We got to see the process of tightening up the frame and slide fit from the measuring, to the peening, and the lapping process. We didn’t do the work in our builds because very little accuracy improvements can be made with this work. The vast majority of accuracy improvements come from the barrel fit and the barrel bushing fit. Of course, it was also a non-issue as the Springfield Frame and Slide fit incredibly well from the start.

Tools used included the following:

  • Vice
  • Peening hammer
  • 1911 Auto Slide Rail Micrometer
  • Everglades Slide Measuring Tool
  • Verniers Calipers
  • 1911 Auto Slide Fitting Bars
  • Files
  • Sandpaper (80-220 grit for most of the work})
  • Lapping Compound – Aluminum Oxide 600-800 grit

Fitting the barrel – We started with a Kart match grade barrel with oversized barrel WP_20150807_13_03_52_Prohood. Using a hood length gauge, we were able to measure the length from the breech face to the first lug in the slide. Next, we measured the length of the barrel hood from its edge to the first lug. The difference is what we had to remove from the barrel hood. For the left and right of the barrel hood, we were able to find the amounts to remove by measuring the width of the opening for the breach face, which gets us the total amount to be removed. To find how much needed to be removed from the right and left side, we measured the port side width of the slide and the distance to the barrel from the port side. From these measurements, the amount of material to be removed was found for the left and the right (port) sides of the hood.

Once the length and the sides of the barrel hood were filed down so that everything “almost” fit, then the rest of was lapped in. It was clear where the lapping fluid cut away material as it had a very nice shine to it. BTW, the barrel to the right is a bit dirty as I took the pictures after test firing.

To complete the barrel fitting, the lugs needed to be cut to fit the slide stop, and then the WP_20150807_13_03_24_Prolink needed to be pinned into place. As with everything we cut/filed, we cut the material down so that it was “almost” complete, and then lapped in the last bit to make sure we had a nice and tight fit, but that it didn’t bind.

The red in the picture to the right might be Dykem or it might be my blood. Smile

Tools used included the following:

  • Vice WP_20150818_20_41_48_Pro
  • Hood length gauge
  • Verniers Calipers
  • Depth micrometer
  • Plastic/Brass Hammer
  • 1911 Auto Lug Cutter
  • Files
  • Sandpaper (80-220 grit for most of the work)
  • Lapping Compound – Aluminum Oxide 600-800 grit

Fitting a barrel bushing – The key to fitting the barrel bushing is to make sure it has WP_20150807_13_05_39_Proenough room to tilt as the barrel goes into and out of battery, but not so much as to introduce slop and take away from the gun’s accuracy. In our cases, the barrel bushing didn’t take any work. It was a nice and snug fit, but still allowed the barrel to tilt. In my case, though, we had to take a little off of the front of the slide.

The barrel bushing is snug enough that it won’t just turn by hand and be removable WP_20150807_13_18_16_Prowith the bushing wrench. It will turn with the bushing wrench, but the barrel is actually used to bring it free by sliding the barrel forward after the bushing is turned properly so it can be removed.

Tools used included the following:

  • Vice
  • Verniers Calipers
  • Depth micrometer
  • Sandpaper (80-220 grit for most of the work)

Fitting a grip safety – The grip safety was, by far, the most fun that I had in the process of hand fitting the different components used in this build. In our cases, we used a nice beavertail grip safety. The work involved a few steps.WP_20150807_12_56_57_Pro

  • Fit the safety to the tang which, once fit, allows the safety pin to slide through the frame without interference. The tang should be fit so that the grip safety moves smoothly over the tang and is still a very close fit. Without a doubt, this was the toughest part. Fitting the tang so that its radius matches the grip safety’s radius meant that I had to apply lots of dykem, file, test it, mark it with more dykem, file, test it, and so on. I must have had the grip safety in and out at least 30 times to get this to match up nicely. WP_20150807_13_02_21_Pro
  • Fit the safety to engage the trigger bow. The whole purpose of the grip safety is that it has a leg on it that prevents the trigger bow from moving back and allowing the trigger to engage and fire the gun. In my case, it took some filing to get it to fit properly and disengage so that the trigger bow could move back.
  • Fit the external part of the grip safety to fit closely to the outside of the frame. This was WP_20150807_13_17_50_Prothe fun part for me. It was a joy to “sculpt” the external part of the grip safety to closely match the frame.

Tools used included the following:

  • Vice
  • Files
  • Sandpaper (80-220 grit for most of the work)

Fitting a Thumb Safety – The thumb safety is another part that needs to fit properly. WP_20150807_12_59_29_ProIt must be snug up against the frame so dirt and grit can’t get in between very easily, and it needs to be be smooth, but also it needs to have a very positive engagement and disengagement. After all, when it is engaged, we want it to stay engaged until we want to disengage it. The thumb safety, in my case, took a little filing so that it would full disengage and allow the trigger bow to move forward. WP_20150807_12_58_56_Pro

Another key to the thumb safety is that it needs to be shaped and contoured so that it is comfortable when against the body and is comfortable when being engaged and disengaged.

Tools used included the following:

  • Vice
  • Files
  • Sandpaper (80-220 grit for most of the work)

Fitting the Trigger – This involves more than just just fitting the trigger and the trigger WP_20150807_12_58_33_Probow. Filing the trigger’s top and bottom to fit the trigger channel is important. The trigger needs to slide in and out of the channel without dragging, but it also should move without having slop. An adjustable trigger can also be used to minimize/remove the over travel in the trigger.

As far as the well discussed “trigger Job” that is a part of all professional upgrades, there are lots of great jigs out there to help make sure that the sear engagement and the hammer engagements points properly fit and are as smooth as possible while locking up properly. Starting with good tools steal components is vital. We want those parts to keep their edges and points of engagement without wearing or deforming. WP_20150807_13_01_31_Pro

Another point of consideration is the disconnector. Its engagement with the slide is vital, but it is fairly easy to clean up the engagement points and polish them. Of course, the flat part of the disconnector that contacts the trigger box must also be properly polished so that it doesn’t drag when the trigger is pulled.

Tools used included the following:

  • Vice
  • Trigger jig
  • Files
  • Sandpaper (80-220 grit for most of the work)

Misc – The gun will need some clean-up. Basically, if you think about all of the edges and burrs that you can get in the manufacturing of metal objects, it is easy to see how the little things need to be cleaned-up. All parts should be full deburred, all edges should be rounded and cleaned so that they are smooth. WP_20150807_12_57_23_Pro

I heard the perfect description from Jim. He said that we should think about guns as something we wear, not something that we carry. They must be comfortable, and the only way we will have them comfortable is to round all of the edges, but we also need to be careful as to not make the edges and corners so soft that it is like a bar of soap. The image to the right shows how some of the edges have been rounded, but they are not overly dramatic.

I really liked Jim’s modification of the grip screw bushings, too. Taking a little off of the grip screw bushings is a great idea as it prevents the grip screws from directly locking down onto the bushings and prevents the bushings from backing out of the frame when taking the grips off. You can see in the picture to the right that the bushings have been filed down.

Tools used included the following:

  • Vice
  • Buffing/Grinding wheel
  • Files
  • Sandpaper (80-220 grit for most of the work)

Test Firing – Well that is a big duh. Of course you need to test fire the gun, but it is important to note any issues during firing. Wheter the extractor catches too much of the case and causes deep scratches, for example.

I was never told about clocking rounds so that they could be better used to identify any problems with the firing process, until I was in this class. As I was firing Remington rounds, I put the R at the very top of the round when loading my magazines. I could then look at the spent casings and see if the extractor was digging into the case, I was also able to look at the ejector impression, and verify that the firing pin was hitting the primer properly and was nicely centered.

Clocking would have shown whether the firing pin was too high or low because of issues with the barrel fit and the barrel not fully moving up into the barrel lugs in the slide properly.

Checkering – I am not comfortable with checkering, just yet, so I didn’t do any checkering on this particular gun. I do plan on spending some time working on some scrap metal and practicing for a future build, but I am not there just yet.

Summary

I strongly recommend attending the class if you have the opportunity. It was worth more than I ever thought it would be when I signed up.

FINISHED

WP_20150818_17_17_03_Pro

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Aria Hotel and Casino–Las Vegas

I just got back from a week in Las Vegas, and stayed at the Aria. I thought it might be nice to share my opinion with the world, not that any of you really care, but I will share anyway. Smile

Technology – I have to admit that I was impressed by the room technology. From the panel by the bed, you can easily control all of the lights in the room, the temperature, and the TV along with the window coverings. You walk into the room, and you can have it automatically turn on lights, and turn on music or the TV. Pretty nice. The room keys are proximity keys, and I have to admit that I liked them.

Bars – I visited a couple of the bars, and the prices were not too outrageous considering that it is Las Vegas. However, there was nothing special.

Casino – Yep, they have all the typical Casino games. Nothing new, here.

Shows – Zarkan by Cirque du Soleil looked like a great show, but I never made it there. I was just a little too busy.

Food – Lots of different places in the building, and lots of options for the type of food. Nothing out of the ordinary, though.

Mini Bar – EFF ME! The prices are just absolutely stupid. They will even charge you $50 a day if you want to put something in the fridge to cool it off.

Fit and Finish – I have to admit that I look at the construction more and more when I am at hotels and restaurants. I noticed that the marble tiling was poorly laid, and badly chipped at the seams, and very poorly grouted. The carpet was poorly laid. The seams were obvious, and in many cases were frayed. When at The Buffet (food was meh, service was poor), I noticed that the counters were horribly built. Not only was the stone not fit closely, the caulking was coming out and each and every seam was clearly visible. For the amount of money involved, you would think they could make sure that quality materials and workmanship went into the construction.

Summary: Nothing special, and certainly not worth the money.

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A Bed, a Shower, and Waffles with Strawberries on Top

It has been a long time since I told this story, and today just seemed like a good day to share it with everyone.

Many years ago, back when the Earth was flat, and so was my stomach, I had many life altering experiences, but this is one of my favorite ones that I am allowed to legally share. Smile

I was with my squad in the Jungles of Central America. We were lost. Very lost. Lesson 1, never let the newbie navigate no matter how good he says he is or how much experience he thinks he has. We were supposed to be out for three days. It was day number 5. No food. Not safe water. We were on the last battery for the PRC 77. Worst of all, I didn’t have my woobie to help pass the nights.

We were lucky, and we made contact on the radio. After a few hours, a chopper circled over head, and they said they couldn’t pick us up because of the dense jungle, but they could pick us up the next day at a clearing that was about 6 klicks away. In the meantime, they were going to drop water to us. The idea was to tie some ponchos onto five gallon plastic cans of water and drop them to us from the chopper. Well, imagine how well that might work. It sounds good in theory. In practice, it means that heavy plastic bombs fall on you, and explode all around. We were wet, and were blasted with bits of plastic shrapnel. Yeah, not fun. Worse, not successful.

Good news, we were no longer lost. Bad news, we still didn’t have food or safe drinking water. The news became worse as the rains started hitting us and soaking us to the bone. Hey, we had a couple of extra ponchos. You have to look at the bright side.

That night, we managed to build a very non-tactical fire. It was huge. We managed to get dried out and then somebody said the magic words, “It could be worse.” Yeah, it could have been worse, we were about to have a wounded soldier as I was about to kick his ass. For the Young Frankenstein fans out there, yes, it was raining again.

I can’t remember who said it, but somebody said, “Hey, let’s talk about would make it better rather than what is making the suck suck more.” So, we had a quick round of negotiations and decided to tell each other what three things would make life so much better than it was at the moment, and they had to be small things. It couldn’t be that you were at the hotel with room service or owning a yacht.

My three things were:

  • A shower – even a cold one would be fine
  • A bed – no blankets or anything like that was needed
  • Waffles with strawberries on top

If I have a really crappy day that depresses me beyond belief, I remember that situation, and then I go to Denny’s, IHOP, or Village Inn.

Of course, I have my woobie, too.

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