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Review of Cousin T’s pancake mix

Lots of people are voting with their money and purchases these days, buying things from people and companies that are not at war against us or against our freedoms.

For example, “My Pillow” is a national brand of sleep/ bedtime stuff like pillows, comforters etc that was once carried in places like Bed, Bath and Beyond, and Target. But because the owner of My Pillow said some patriotic things and challenged a blatantly stolen 2020 election, anti-freedom companies like Bed, Bath and Beyond and Target stopped carrying his high quality products. But online buyers picked up the slack, and instead of buying My Pillow at retail outlets like those mentioned above, they began buying it direct via the Internet.

The owner of My Pillow says his sales have never been this high.

Similarly, Terrence Williams is a humorous black guy with a humorous personality and an honest wit. And so when he began openly questioning the white liberal Democrat narrative that has de facto enslaved American blacks and destroyed the American black family and their communities for the past seventy years, who else but white liberal Democrats sought to blacklist (“cancel”) Terrence and drive him from the public square. White liberal Democrat bastions YouTube and FaceBook began censoring his speech, although his was nowhere near as strongly worded as the strident and highly protected speech broadcast widely by white liberal Democrats on those same social media sites.

Instead, Terrence found other venues to share his humor, like Rumble. Terrence also has branched out into something he apparently enjoys a lot, food. He now has his own line of pancake mixes, among other things. And so I am here to review it and share my experiences cooking with and eating his “Cousin T’s” buttermilk pancake mix.

In a word, Cousin T’s buttermilk pancake mix is outstanding. It is literally the very best pancake/ biscuit mix I have ever owned, bought, cooked with, or eaten. And I have tried everything, including the ubiquitous Bisquick, Kodiak, and Hungry Jack.

In our family, I am known for my Sunday morning pancake fest. We eat berry pancakes only with real Grade B maple syrup that we either make from our own maple trees, or that we buy by the gallon from Pennsylvania and New York producers. I have tried to make my own pancakes from scratch, and they are usually OK, but they lack a certain pizzazz that the commercial pancake mixes have nailed down and that serve as their signature selling point. And so for decades I have used a variety of pancake mixes, until now.

Now, I am devoted to just Cousin T’s. And a quick read of the ingredients will tell you exactly why Cousin T’s pancake mix tastes so good: It has only premium types and grades of natural foods, like rye flour (found in none of the competitors’ mixes), which adds a hearty and poignant flavor. What is missing from the Cousin T’s ingredients are all the chemical preservatives, artificial flavors and colors etc that seem to be standard in all of the others. None of us will miss those “ingredients,” because they are bad for our bodies.

Cousin T’s is a carefully thought out blend of 100% natural ingredients, and the taste shows it.

Presently I can only purchase Cousin T’s products online, and the shipping adds real cost to it, about double. But I am OK with this, because I am getting a premium product from a company that supports my freedom of choice, freedom of thought, freedom of association, and freedom of speech. Hopefully Cousin T’s will be picked up by a national grocery chain like Giant or Wegman’s, so that the shipping cost is greatly diminished and the happiness of delicious Sunday morning pancakes can be more widely shared across America.

Try Cousin T’s, you will definitely like it like our family does.

Compare the wholesome ingredients of Cousin T’s to those of two major competitors

Baking peach cobblers using our own homemade peach preserves from our peach trees and Cousin T’s pancake mix

Finished peach cobblers using Cousin T’s pancake mix. The white on the left cobbler is sugar, which I coat the top with before baking

Two young men eating Cousin T’s blueberry pancakes for dinner

 

Movie review: “White Tiger”

When we think of Russia today and now, our mind might wander off into brutal poisonings of ex-spies across international borders, brutal assassinations of journalists inside Russia, brutal repressions of Chechen independence movements, brutal invasions of South Ossetia, Ukraine, and Georgia (THAT Georgia, not our Georgia), poorly chosen relationships with Iran and Syria, and the current czar riding around bare-chested on a horse with a rifle slung over his back.

Perhaps it was always thus. But if we think and search back a hundred years or more, we will stumble upon buried treasure in the farthest reaches of Russia.

Yes, it is true, Russia was not always just a military force to be reckoned with, it was also a significant cultural center of the very highest magnitude, the very highest achievement. World class music, literature, arts and crafts, poetry, ballet, and so on all were major hallmarks of the Russians.

Not of the oppressed Soviet satellite states, but the actual Russian people themselves.

Rachmaninoff, Dostoyesky, Faberge, and so on, so many great minds contributing in a singularly unique way, native to Russian culture.

Russians had this knack for art that you would not necessarily see if you looked at the simple surface of their culture or landscape. Behind the eightball on technology, Russian writers and poets and musicians bedazzled Westerners with their brilliance and inspiration.

That all started to die in fits and starts after the violent 1917 revolution led by the Democrat Party of that day and place, but nonetheless art persisted until the 1950s, when Soviet socialist control firmly held every thing and every person in its crushing grasp.

To dissent from all that big government with a pink pussy hat or with a snarky hashtag was unthinkable. Not that people wouldn’t try to do it, but the Soviet thought police, much the same as our own politically correct thought police in America today, would catch the thought crime even before it had taken physical form, and, as our own thought police openly wish they could do, WHOOSH, off to a starvation diet in Siberia went that ‘evil’ free thinker.

I am not sure that the Soviets used the words “sexist,” “racist,” homophobe,” “Islamophobe,” and other overdone American generalities meant to crush dialogue and debate, but if they could have used these terms, they would have. Different words then, but the same anti-democracy process then and now.

So for the past seventy years Russia has had an especially harsh Russian winter, art-wise, because of the Soviets and then their control freak successors, whatever Mr. Putin’s political party is named.

To be an artist in that Russian cultural winter was to walk around every day muzzled, daring not to say much less think your own creative thoughts. Too much was at stake.

But somewhere, somehow, that beautiful old Russian voice began to quietly break through the repressive walls. Finding acceptable subjects and means to convey them became a new form of creativity in and of itself.

Nationalism, patriotism, history are all legitimate subjects of artistic creativity, and so Russian artists have adapted. Very, very well. Albeit with throwback Soviet-style imagery, which is lamentable. Gosh, if the Russians could only be our friends…the things we could achieve together.

And so here we now have a truly artistic Russian movie we can all be proud of, in the mould of the old-time Russian artistic capacity. It is called White Tiger and debuted about 18 months ago. I have been wanting to write about it since watching it back then, but as we know, the past 18 months in America have been pretty intense.  Every time I thought I could breathe again, some new issue would pop up. There was more compelling competition for writing space and creativity of my own.

At least this is how I have experienced the past 18 months.

If you are afflicted with a love of liberty, as I am, then you have shared my somewhat anxious condition as the American “deep state,” or Obama holdovers, or career bureaucrats, or whatever you want to call them, have attempted to reverse the outcome of a presidential election they thought they would win and still cannot stomach the thought of losing, by any means necessary. Which means illegal, unethical, immoral, un-American, anti-democratic means.

That all seems to be unwinding now.

And so now, for this moment, I get to bask in the glow of art, thanks to the Russians. And I really mean it, thank you. Seeing this movie took me way back in time to when my own mind was creative and artistic.

Dear Russians, I lift my glass to you: Tvoye zdorovye!

White Tiger is on its face a war movie set in World War Two. It is about Russians versus Germans, good guys versus bad guys, the Eastern European version of cowboys versus Indians. It is also about tanks and heavy armor, about technological superiority versus the grass roots spirit to survive, and history. Lots of history. And lots of action.

At its core, this movie is mythological and Darwinian, with a lot of symbolism, not the least of which is the theme music, an artfully done refrain of Wagner’s pilgrim’s chorus.

If you care to pay careful attention, and walk a mile in a Russian tank tread, you will end up being impressed by this low-budget, high-performance film.

Briefly summed up with no spoilers, the unlikely (and yet so likely…there’s that symbolism thing) Russian hero is reborn, a plausible enough biological fluke consistent with species adapting.

He goes on to learn his enemy’s ways, to anticipate his next moves, and in the end, he goes on a ghostly chase into both past and future, bound up in one of Russia’s most enduring identities: Not German!

And speaking of German, Germany, and World War Two, no better representation of Adolf Hitler has been captured in cinema than the movie’s very last few minutes, where Satan’s boots on the ground has a heartfelt confession with his sponsor, who sits patiently listening in the shadow.

White Tiger.

And as an aperitif, try this Russian music to settle your soul before bed time.

Benjamin Marauder Air Rifle 3.0 Review

With Pennsylvania recently adopting regulations allowing the use of air guns for hunting, a new air rifle was acquired to take advantage of the new opportunities. It is the .25 caliber Benjamin Marauder, version 3. This is a PCP version, which is to say, highly compressed air from a specialized hand pump that gives you a heck of a workout, or from a SCUBA tank, to a maximum of 3,000 psi. These PCP air guns are quite powerful and nothing like the Daisy BB guns my generation is familiar with.

It was purchased from LG Outdoors brand new in the factory box, for $465.00.

The .25 caliber was selected because the slightly larger pellets can carry significantly higher kinetic energy, as measured in foot-pounds, than the .177 and .22 caliber PCP air rifles. Supposed to function like a firearm.  That was the idea, anyhow.

A UTG 3-9×40 AO mildot scope was added to it, because the gun does not have open sights. UTG was selected on the basis of internet reviews and recommendations. It is designed for .22s and air rifles, which are much harder on scopes than even heavy caliber big game rifles. This was purchased from Midway for $85.00.

Pellets used were .25 caliber 25.39-grain JSB Match Diabolo Exact Kings. According to internet reviews I have read, these seem to be the best performing pellets in the Marauder. They are pure soft lead, rounded blunt, with a pronounced skirt, so no sharp, pointed, killer-type field tip contours here.  But within 25-35 yards, they are going to be deadly.

Shooting Experience

The clip included with the rifle broke right away, and I could not get it to work more than once (eight shots). Apparently the internal spring sprang, and the clip would not rotate afterwards. The clip is an over-engineered, overly complicated contraption, designed to frustrate most users. After those first eight shots, the clip was broken, set aside, and the gun was tediously fed single shots by hand.

After the first ten shots, accuracy began to drop, so more air needed to be pumped in with the hand pump. While the gauge on the rifle showed 1,500 psi starting out with the re-charge, it then went to 2,500 psi after just a few pumps. On the other hand, the hand pump gauge showed 3,000 psi, which is the limit. Mind you this was only the second time the gun had been pumped up. When the bleeder valve was opened and the pump disconnected from the rifle, the rifle gauge needle dropped into the white area below the marked pressure range. In other words, the rifle’s gauge died immediately upon use. Only the pump gauge was accurate.

The de-gassing tool needed to quickly let out the compressed air is not included with the gun, which is ridiculous.

The awful matte finish on the barrel and air tank attracts scuffs, holds any paint it encounters, and the metal underneath rusts easily from even the slightest exposure to moisture. This is not your old Daisy single-pump BB gun’s black finish, a finish that even decades later may be somewhat scratched but is still robust and protecting the steel underneath.

After wondering about how the barrel could be counted on to remain accurate without being rigidly supported by the front barrel band, I learned in a phone call to Crosman customer service that a rubber O-ring was missing from the barrel band on this rifle. That O-ring would grip the barrel inside the barrel band and keep the barrel from flexing or moving, which would destroy accuracy.

Despite lacking the O-ring to hold the barrel rigidly, this gun was accurate. With the barrel band O-ring installed, I’ll bet it is amazingly accurate. The adjustable trigger is outstandingly crisp.

After shooting it into and through half-inch-thick dried oak boards, which are iron – hard, we learned this is a gun quite capable of cleanly taking squirrels, rats, starlings, European sparrows, and rabbits, either hunting or in pest control out to about 35 yards. I am unsure if I feel comfortable using it for more challenging pest control like skunks, groundhogs, possums, raccoons, or feral cats, all of which are very tough, unless it is a head shot at point blank range, like in a trap. Having just killed a large porcupine gnawing on our pavilion the other night, which required five point blank Federal Premium .22 LRs, there is still a distinct power difference between even a “mere” .22 and this souped-up air rifle.

Crosman did respond to this gun’s deficiencies. They sent a new clip (the size of a fifty cent piece) in a package the size of a shoe box. I guess shipping costs are not an issue at Crosman. Days later a new air pressure gauge and barrel O-ring arrived. After looking at the terribly illustrated and poorly worded user’s manual, which did not include instructions on installing either the O-ring or the pressure gauge, I decided against trying to install the barrel O-ring or the gauge myself. The gun is going back to Crosman. They can fix this one or send a new one.

Bottom line

The Benjamin Marauder 3.0 PCP air rifle is very accurate up to ten shots, and then it needs to be pumped up again to 3,000 psi. Don’t push this rifle beyond what it was designed to do, and it will perform fine within 35 yards. Just make sure you actually get a functional rifle when it comes “new” out of the box!

UPDATE: 6/2/17 Crosman customer service is shipping the rifle back at their cost. The nice lady told me the serial number is from late 2015, which made her think the gun may have already been returned to LG Outdoors once before, as it should have moved through the channels of trade long before June 2017. She also said we’ll be receiving a new gun. That’s good customer service!

UPDATE: 6/23/17 Crosman delivers back to me the same rifle I had sent to them for repair or replacement. Judging by the small amount of pressure indicated by the gauge, the gauge has been replaced. However, the O ring in the barrel band is still missing. It has not been fixed. This means that the barrel is just flopping around, unsupported. This means mediocre accuracy, at best. Dear Crosman (went my unanswered emails and phone calls), WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON OVER THERE? This is not customer service, it is a rip-off. I purchased a brand new air rifle, and months later, it still doesn’t work right. To be continued!

 

Diary entry for a day in Central PA

With two business meetings up north and a pile of work to do even farther, the drive up the Susquehanna Valley the other day was enjoyable because so many of the trees still held color along the river banks and out on the islands. Yellows and oranges reflected in the water, and so did the blue sky. Quite peaceful and serene. Not a bad way to spend time driving. Especially when I consider how most Americans spend their time on the road — miserable gridlock, hideous urban concrete jungles, rude drivers. My driving is mostly a Zen experience. That is quintessential Central PA, after all.

Catawissa, PA, is not really on anyone’s destination planner, being snug between ragged coal country, fertile farm country, and pretty river bottom land, and well off the beaten path. To go to Catawissa, you really have to want to go, or have a real clear reason for going. The one horse there moved on long ago, and is now pulling some Amishman’s buggy across the river. Catawissa is daggone quiet in a countryside that is…well, really quiet.

But Catawissa is worth visiting for one simple reason: Ironmen Arms & Antiques is located there.

Jared and Tom have recently opened Ironmen Arms, what is and would have to be the nicest gun room in Pennsylvania (with apologies to Joel in Ligonier), filled with militaria, historic artifacts, and of course, fine firearms. The finest firearms, for the most discriminating collectors. Really high quality guns, like matching pairs (yes, pairs, not just one pair) of Parker shotguns, sequential pairs of high grade Parkers, and high grade LC Smiths, European double rifles, and on and on. For those of you bidding on the mint condition Remington 700 BDL in .223, I can tell you after holding it and inspecting it at length, it is every bit as perfect as it appears on line. If you are a serious collector, that gun is as good as it gets. The Remington BDL is becoming a collector’s item, oddly, because plastic stocks and stainless steel seem to be all the rage now, as soul-less and devoid of personality, art, and craftsmanship as those combinations are. I have no idea how someone hunts with these new guns, because I, myself, have deeply personal relationships with each of my firearms. To achieve that, they’ve got to look good as well as function properly. I’m not disgracing some wild animal by terminating it with anything but the highest combination of form and function. Aesthetics are necessary, because hunting isn’t just killing. It’s a statement about one’s values. Maybe I’m an “artiste.”

Or maybe it’s just a sign of my advancing age, or the arrival of The Age of China and All Things Plastic. I refuse to give in to sterile surgical steel and hard plastic, when I can hold the body of a beautiful tree in my hands. Apparently I am in good company with Jared and Tom, because they, too, like old wood and new steel, and old wood and old steel, too.

In this economic environment, entrepreneurs like Jared and Tom are brave. But they offer things that are not easy to get by any standard, and which are in high demand. And they are both nice men, interested in the fellow gun nerds of the world, and willing to share their bounty and knowledge with you.

So, if you find yourself traversing Pennsylvania on I-80, and you are passing by Bloomsburg, call ahead and set up an appointment with Ironmen Arms. Stop in and spend a half hour, or an hour, make some new friends, and buy an old Japanese sword, a rare bayonet, or a new rifle for that hunt of a lifetime. I know I will be back.

Ironmen Arms: 570 356-6126, jjvpo@verizon.net, 561 Numidia Drive, Catawissa, PA 17820. Their excellent website is at http://www.ironmenarms.com/

The challenge of properly managing Pennsylvania’s endangered species

Managing Pennsylvania’s endangered and threatened species: Are we going from bad to worse?

By Josh First

Democratic government is by its nature slow and difficult. It’s designed to be inefficient. That’s why less government is better than more government. 

House Bill 1576 is being voted on Wednesday, sponsored by legislators responding to legitimate complaints from their constituents and stakeholders. HB 1576 would change the way Pennsylvania manages threatened and endangered species, by adding IRRC, the heavily politicized arm of regulatory government as the final arbiter of scientific reviews originating in our wildlife agencies. 

Here’s my three reasons for opposing HB 1576:

1) It’s more bureaucracy, which in this case is designed to hamstring the current regulatory process overseen by the PA Game Commission and the PA Fish & Boat Commission. Careful what you ask for, because if Pennsylvania lets endangered species management become a political issue, the US Fish & Wildlife Service will take over. If you think our state agencies are a pain in the butt, wait til distant, unresponsive, politicized federal bureaucrats take over and are making the decisions about our wildlife issues. You’ll get gridlock up the yinyang then.  And Pennsylvania will lose the annual +\- $30 million in self imposed excise tax money from sporting goods that is distributed to PGC and PFBC by the Feds each year.  

2) It emasculates the two independent agencies, setting them up for further questions about their function and role in state government. The ultimate goal by some people is to fold PGC and PFBC into DCNR. Emasculating the agencies is a step in that direction. 
My opposition to that is strictly cultural: PA is more like Idaho or Wyoming, and unlike every other state surrounding us, in that we have uniformed PGC officers teaching kids how to use firearms safely, and teaching them that firearms ownership is their constitutional right. State personnel in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, etc don’t do that. Those are Commie states where leftist governors have politicized the line agencies. Due to the extremists running their governments, these states actively deprive their citizens of their Second Amendment rights. That could happen here, say, under a Governor Allyson Schwartz, an extreme leftist now in the lead to be the Democrat nominee for Pennsylvania governor.  

Let’s not let Pennsylvania become a Commie state, or let our traditional hands-on culture at PGC and PFBC get overrun by the next governor who flits through the office. Let’s hold onto this old, beautiful aspect of our culture, and let our qualified authority figures teach the next generation about the beauty of individual liberty. 

3) It’s a sledgehammer when we need a scalpel.  With HB 1576, I think the PGC and PFBC just got the message that their process isn’t working for everyone. But it must work for everyone. So let’s sit down and hammer out a new, better process that meets the worthy stewardship goals of PGC and PFBC, without undermining those agencies. 

Sure, there are other reasons to oppose HB 1576, but those three are enough for me. 

Ultimate Prosaic: What The Heck Happened to American Made Hunting Boots?

America made the best hunting boots, a fact known as surely as Einstein was the smartest person ever and Raquel Welch was the hottest babe, ever.

Until now. Now, hunting boots by even the most storied makers like Danner and Irish Setter are made in….where else…China.

Call me confused, but let me ask you, Are the Chinese big on hunting? Do they know how to hunt, what to wear hunting, are they gear hounds, etc. ? My sense, apparently now shared by a lot of other American hunters and outdoorsmen, is that the Chinese really do not know hunting or hunting boots. In fact, the Chinese suck at hunting (although I once watched a video of Chinese soldiers happily picking off gentle, unarmed Tibetans who were walking through the Himalayan snows to escape their China-occupied country, so I guess the Chinese are good at murdering, but that’s unrelated to hunting), if their products are any indication.

The proof that the Chinese stink badly at hunting is that they keep on manufacturing hunting boots, and the hunting boots keep on getting returned by increasingly surly buyers. Label says waterproof. Wallet says you just paid $200 for high quality, waterproof boots. Your wet feet say “These ain’t waterproof.” And back to the store they go.

Some guys (and ladies, too), are returning three pairs of the same model before they give up on either that model or on the entire brand. A lot of people seem to be migrating toward spending no less than $300, and easily up to $375, on a pair of hunting boots that they know will not fail them when they are alone, a long, long way from civilization, and dependent on their footwear to get them around and back home at the end.

Does three hundred and fifty bucks sound like a lot of money for hunting boots to you? Holy smokes, it sounds like a lot of money to me. A pair of fancy dress shoes by the best makers rarely go for that amount, even on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Something is afoot here, friends, and it is not pretty.

On the one hand, a lot of hunters are kvetching about their low-quality boots online and in product reviews. So hunting as a sport is clearly taking a hit. On the other hand, Chinese boot manufacturers are hazing hunters, forcing many of them to spend a small fortune on the only American-made hunting boots, thereby restoring comfort to their feet and honor to our crumbling nation. I am at that point myself, having purchased, worn, and returned several expensive pairs of boots by the most storied names in boot making history.

The question is, with boots this expensive, are guys going to begin comparing boots at camp? That will make me feel quite uncomfortable. The last thing I want is to be associated with effete city slicker behavior. It’s like pollution in a pristine environment. It’s a Chinese plot to destroy hunting, one way or another. God help us.