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North Broughton Kayaking Adventure

August 31st, 2014  · stk

Nanaimo to Polkinghorn Island | Aug 19

Note: The journal is currently text-only. Eventually, we'll add photos. For now, you can see the accompanying pictures in a Facebook album

It's 7 PM and we are in the Polkinghorn Islands. We were dropped off by James Willson and his water taxi "Rainbow Chaser" about an hour ago, on a rocky islet on the leeward side of the main Polkinghorn Island. From our drop off spot we had only a short five-minute paddle over to Polkinghorn Island where we are making camp tonight.

We are about one and a half hours into our week-long kayak trip and already were wondering if we're going to survive this trip. It is a trip that seems ill fated!!

We arrived in Port McNeil for our 4pm meet up with the water taxi. We unloaded our gear from the car and carried it down onto the wharf. James Willson, of Silver King Water Taxi, arrived and taxied us across Queen Charlotte Straight, crashing through the swell and over the waves. When we reached Polkinghorn Island, her nosed the boat up to an rocky islet where we unloaded. We hauled our bags around the runner boards of the boat, across the bow and onto the rock, making numerous trips until all our gear was off. Last to come off the boat were the kayaks and then we stood and watched as he pulled away and out of sight.

Left alone on the rocks, we turned to our kayaks to load up for the short paddle to camp. Rachel pulled off her hat cover and groaned. There were no neoprene gasket covers under the hard shell covers. Nothing to really make a water seal on the storage holds. Not a good start to our week long trip!

We loaded our gear in, somewhat haphazardly into the bulkheads and then ventured out. It was only 5 minutes before we were pulling up onto the beach in a small cove on Polkinghorn Island. Scott climbed out of his kayak and ventured up on to the beach small area. There was nothing that looked definitely about the tide line so he stepped into a small clearing in the salal and came out into a grassy clearing which would be our camp for the night.

We unloaded all our gear and pulled the kayaks up onto the headland. We put up the tent and then went to change out of our shorts and wet shoes. Oh no! Rachel had somehow missed packing her socks and Scott had not packed his fleece. Wow! How unprepared are we!? How did this get by us? I'll tell you how - because we were rushed. We only got home from Oregon on Friday afternoon and then we had to get our rental trailer ready for a change of tenants the next day. When that was taken care of, we did our packing on Saturday night before Rachel left for Williams Lake on Sunday morning, not to return to Nanaimo again until late Monday evening. We then finished our packing that evening (or thought we did) and went to bed. We got up at 6:30 in the morning, loaded up the car, tied the kayaks on top, dropped the dog off at the dog sitters (forgetting to take his bed for him) and then hit the road for Port McNeil.

As we were driving up the Island Highway, Rachel got out her GoPro which she had just bought an Oregon, so that she can familiarize yourself with it. As she was playing with it and going through the box and accessories, she realized that somehow the WiFi remote had been separated from the rest of the gear and left behind. Another thing left behind! As we pulled through Campbell River we stopped in at Walmart, London Drugs and Target to buy another one, but they didn’t have any.

Further up the highway, Rachel pulled out the maps and guidebook to read up on where we were going to be paddling. Before we go on a trip like this, we take these resources to Staples and we copy the sections that are applicable to where we're going to be traveling so that we don’t have to carry more than we need, and so that the originals remain in good condition. Well, Rachel began flipping through the 50 pages of guidebook to find the section on the Polkinghorn Island area, but the copies seemed to end right at that part. The guidebook seems to be organized in an non-intuitive way, jumping all around, but we were sure that we had photocopied the whole two chapters that cover the Johnstone Straight and Broughton Islands but we were apparently short of some. Scott didn’t seem to be too rattled by this, but Rachel was a little concerned.

Now that we are here, Scott is making us dinner. He lit up the stove but it isn't burning well. The flame is orange instead of blue, and the jet is not putting out much. Sure enough, he is able to fix it, but there are a few cuss words flying around and it is one more thing that's going wrong.

While Scott is working on the stove Rachel has sat down to do the journal. Out comes the phone and the Bluetooth keyboard, but the keyboard has never been paired with this phone before and for some reason the two aren’t finding each other. We've lost count now. Is that ill fate number 8? I think so: 1)dog bed, 2) WiFi GoPro remote, 3) map description, 4) kayak hatch covers, 5) socks, 6) fleece, 7) stove, 8) keyboard.

While Scott has gone off to take find his rain jacket (so he can layer up) Rachel has dug out the low tech pen and paper. Pray for us. Hopefully will make it back to Telegraph Cove alive in 6 days time.

I may have made this sound rather doom and gloom, and when we initially arrived, Rachel was certainly feeling that way. She was so anxious about the trip that she was nearly in tears. But, now that we are both on our second cup of wine, the food smells good, Rachel has on a pair of Scott’s socks, Scott is layered up with his rain jacket, and the wind has died down and we have devised a plan for dealing with the hatch covers. Things don’t seem quite so bad. We are sitting her looking out at the view toward Vincent and Percy Island, with a section of the mainland behind, and we marvel at the beauty that surrounds us. It is nearing dusk and we are now looking forward to a great week of paddling.

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Alexa Rankings

June 2nd, 2013  · stk

A practical guide to your website Alexa ranking. What it is, what are its pitfalls, why it's important and what you can do to increase your Alexa ranking. Written as a result of questions fielded by a web client, concerned that their ranking was substantially lower than those of his competitors.

What are Alexa Rakings & Should I Care?

Alexa is to website owners as Klout is to Twitter or Nielsen ratings are to television. It's a way to see how your website traffic compares to your competitors (or any other website in the world for that matter).

Founded in 1996 by two entrepreneurs, the name Alexa gives props to the Library of Alexandria, drawing a parallel between the largest repository of knowledge in the ancient world and the Internet - today's largest body of knowledge (pornography notwithstanding).

In addition to offering a toolbar that gave Internet users suggestions on where to go next, Alexa also offers statistical information for each website one visits. Originally, Alexa archived the websites it crawled and this database served as the basis for the creation of the "Internet Archive", which can now be accessed through the Wayback Machine.

Alexa was acquired by Amazon in 1999 for about $250MM (USD) and has been through much, though analytic Alexa rankings remains a core function of this Amazon subsidiary.

For anyone owning or managing a website, Alexa rankings can offer valuable insight. If you advertise on your website, know that advertisers use Alexa rankings to determine rate-of-pay and other factors - your Alexa ranking becomes very important. For most website owners, Alexa rankings are another one of those "devil-in-the-details" things. You should know about it, how it works (and about its inherent flaws) and the small changes and improvements you can make to your website to increase its Alexa ranking. This article will cover all of this, in a practical way.

Understanding & Improving Your Alexa Ranking

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Passing the Sniff Test

October 22nd, 2012  · stk

Passing the Sniff Test -- Scott & Rachel are replacing their broken Lumix DMC-TZ5 digital camera. They can buy it locally for $349 CAD, but know they are cheaper in the States. They almost pulled the trigger on one for $162, but the company - - turned out to be a SCAM. Find out more. Scam

British Columbia - NAFTA woes continue for Scott & Rachel. While backpacking in Cape Scott two summer's ago, the Lumix camera they loved (Leica-lens, 10X optical zoom), popped out of it's soft case, landing hard on a wooden bridge. It wouldn't work any more. They took it to a camera repair shop, but thought the $180 repair bill was a tad expensive.

Fast-forward to this summer, when they had an amazing kayaking trip in Johnstone Strait. They missed lots of great wildlife shots, because they lacked a good digital camera with a decent zoom lens. The decided that they would bite the bullet and purchase the latest Lumix camera. (Updated to a 20X optical zoom - same weight and form factor, plus a few other goodies - GPS, touch-screen menu).

They've highlighted the disparity in digital camera prices between the United States and Canada. First with their Casio EX-Z875 digital camera and again with the Lumix DMC-TZ5 that broke.

Today, this latest Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 camera is "on sale" at their local Canadian Future Shop (if money weren't an object, they could drive right down and buy the camera, today and be instantly gratified knowing that they got it on sale). The sale price is $349.99 ("Save $30" the online advert says).

Knowing that they could probably buy the camera in the States for a lot less money, they headed to their friendly shopping bots and gave them a spin. Actually, it was their head that spun, when they saw a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 camera on sale through a Yahoo e-commerce vendor ( for $160. Wow!

To learn how cheaply they were able to buy this camera (and how they were almost swindled out of nearly $165) ... read on brave consumer ...

The Deal & the Scam

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Pickled Tongue Recipe

May 28th, 2012  · stk

Growing up in Bakersfield, California meant eating Basque food. Why? Because the Basque followed the sheep at the turn of the 20th century and Basque boardinghouses were clustered down by the old Bakersfield train station. One of the things we ate was pickled cow tongue. Not tried it? Just head down to your local grocer (or butcher), buy a tongue and use the easy "Randsco Basque Pickled Tongue Recipe" herein! You'll either love it or hate it, but either way ... it'll be a culinary conversation piece!

Basque Pickled Cow Tongue Recipe

Randsco Basque Pickled Tongue Recipe

When you think of appetizers, most don't think of pickled cow tongue. Heck, if you've spent any time around cows, you know what they use that long tongue of theirs for - picking their nose! Eating that nose-picking thing doesn't sound very appetizing at all!

But it is! Pickled cow tongue may be an acquired flavor, but because I grew up in Bakersfield, California - it's a dish I've learned to love!

If you too, love pickled tongue, or are a brave soul eager to try a new Basque delicacy, I'm happy to say, "You've come to the right place!" We have an authentic (and easy) Basque Pickled Tongue recipe for you to try.

Make Your Own Basque Pickled Tongue

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1.flag Geovannie Comment
Thanks for sharing your recipe and awesome story. I'm originally from Bakersfield too. I currently reside in Hawaii and definitely in severe withdrawals for pickled tongue! I can't find beef tongue on Oahu. I'll be visiting Bakersfield next month and definitely plan on having dinner at Noriegas, woo hoo!
One of my biggest goals is to make pickled tongue at my mom's and I'll be using your recipe. It's going to be one of my hi-lites of my trip. Looking forward to going home! Many Mahalos for your insight~~ Aloha!
2.flag stk Comment
Aloha Geovannie,

I was just back in Bako for the first time in ages (1999) this last November (for a HS reunion). I had some pickled tongue at Luigis. (To be honest, mine was better! ... tasted very vinegar-y)

Let me know how it turns out for you! (Still looking for a supply of cheap tongue meat here in Nanaimo).
3.flag Cyndy Comment
How do you store the pickled tongue? How long can you store it? Can you freeze it? I'm not sure one person can eat a whole tongue!
4.flag stk Comment
Cyndy - You must not be a pickled tongue lover. My problem isn't storing it, it's refraining from eating it! LOL (I keep mine in the fridge and nibble on it for a week or so ... I *try* to make it last longer, but it just keeps disappearing!) :p
5.flag Tom Comment
I used to live in Quebec and it's a common bar food. I've never known a supermarket there not to stock pickled tongue in jars. Now I live in California and have never seen it. I'm going to try your recipie and see if it is what I remember. Cheers.
6.flag Billk Comment
Since I grew up in Taft, 30 miles away, and Noriega's is my favorite restaurant in the world, I'm really glad to see this recipe.

Sometimes the farmers at the Farmer's Market have cheap offal, including my favorite tongue, liver, and oxtails.
7.flag Billk Comment
Well, my daughter bought 1/8 cow and gave me the tongue. Yippee, skippee! A big tongue, I pickled the tip part and put the rest into a basque tongue stew (google it). It's really good, too!,1502281

It was just as good as I remember from Noriega's although I didn't slice as thinly.

I put it and the pickle into a gallon freezer bag and flop it from time to time, keeping the sealed end folded up.

It's about two weeks now, (we're eatinging sparingly) and it's good as ever. (Remeber, it's pickled; how long does your jar of pickled turkey gizzards last?)
8.flag Rob Comment
I bought a tongue today for dinner tonight. Things got in the way. Now it's too late in the day to cook it, so I put it away, and thought I'd look up pickled tongue.

Up popped your site, and this tongue will be pickled!

When I was a kid we had friends in Shafter, near Bakersfield, and we often went to Noriegas or The Wool Growers for dinner.

This was 50 years ago and the pickled tongue always started things off.

This is what is on the agenda for tomorrow. The batch of homebrew just got bumped!

I can't wait!
9.flag stk Comment
Rob - Lucky you! (I'm still trying to find a source for tongue here in Nanaimo, Canada!) LOL

You just made my mouth water, thinking about eating some pickled tongue!
10.flag Ginger Comment
Looking forward to trying this as our 1/2 beef is almost ready for pickup from the butcher & I made sure to ask for the tongue. I grew up enjoying pickled tongue in Bakersfield too, but at Wool Growers, yum!
11.flag CBailey Comment
Been away from my hometown for way to long. Wool Growers and Noriegas were always the place to be. Mom always made us try something new we had never had. When the pickled tongue came around I took my obligatory sample and much to my surprise it was fantastic! Mom been gone now for some time but I've never forgotten her rendition of this fantastic dish. I've had the urge to make this and was blown away to find this site! Can't wait to try it with some wine and sourdough bread. Pyrenees bread, that's what I need...
12.flag stk Comment
Ginger & CBailey,

It's been a few years since I made this - one of my last blog posts - and I'm STILL looking for a local supplier of beef tongue.

Mind you, Pink salmon are on offer for $0.27 per 100 grams at the grocer ... so there's plenty of delectables here (Pink salmon smoke up very nicely and who doesn't like smoked salmon?)


I hope all your Bakersfield pickled tongue dreams come true!
13.flag CBailey Comment
STK I'm back to make another batch of tongue. This is a great recipe but added some fresh dried basil and a bit of cayenne.
I looked at many recipes for tongue and never seen one with oil. They don't know what they're missing!
14.flag stk Comment
CBailey - Jealous of your second batch. I'll have to add basil &/or Cayenne to the mix! Let us know how it works out.

As for oil ... huh? We go off of an old Basque recipe. What are others using?

Simple. Pure. Yummy!
15.flag CBailey Comment
All I've seen is vinegar based no oil. Unbelievable!
16.flag stk Comment
Does seem odd. I believe that the olive oil is an essential ingredient that imparts that "authentic" Basque flavour. Because the Basque area is what I'd consider "Mediterranean", I would suspect olive oil would be readily available and a common ingredient.
17.flag Cindy Comment
I am another displaced Bakersfield native. Thank you for posting this recipe. I miss Basque food so much. Can't get it in Texas.
Filed in:Penn State

The "Toilet Bowl"

February 8th, 2012  · stk
Joe Paterno legend coach of Penn State football team


Douglas Robb hasn't written much since Joe Paterno passed away on January 22nd, 2012. He wrote a fitting tribute to Joe Paterno yesterday. He called it "The Joe I Know". Here is his story (which I feel honored that he allowed me to reprint here). Thanks Doug. ;)

For me, growing up in State College, Pennsylvania was a great experience. Those who come to live and work in "Happy Valley" generally have a sense of loyalty about the place that endears itself to people who have lived there - even long after they move away. For those of us who are "Townies," this is especially true. Part and parcel of this is the atmosphere that revolves around Penn State.

After all, State College probably wouldn't be much of a town without Penn State. There is no major employer other than the University, save for the businesses that support State College and it's surrounding community. Many come to State College to attend Penn State, only to find employment there after they graduate. Some start businesses and stake their claim to their little piece of "Happy Valley".

That's how my family arrived at State College. After serving with the U.S. Navy, my dad - "Big Lou" - attended Penn State, as thousands of others had, through their G.I. Bill. Many veterans came from the cities, towns and rural communities around the state, to the school whose mission was "to educate the working class sons and daughters of the Commonwealth."

And so my Dad and my Mom came from their childhood home in Johnstown and began their life in "Happy Valley". Like so many before them, my Dad attended Penn State and my Mom raised our family. When my Dad graduated, he began working for Penn State and our family "took root" in State College.

Penn State Autumn Rituals

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1.flag Andy Wernham Comment
Got this off the Penn State Alumni FB page and enjoyed the article. Is your dad the Lou who was a Patton Township supervisor and at one time responsible for the University Park Airport? Who later moved to Penn State in Fogelsville, PA?
2.flag Doug Robb Comment
Yes, that is "Big Lou!"
3.flag Andy Wernham Comment
I knew him in State College, at the airport and here in Fogelsville. He lived just a couple of doors down.