Preppers, Schmeppers


So I saw this video on YouTube, and needless to say it kinda pissed me off. I left this comment:

If the number of preppers out numbers those that are steering us to doom, why don’t the preppers come up with a solution to prevent doom? Why except someone else’s fate? I’m sick and tired of hearing prepper doom and gloom. Get out there and work, spend, and tell others to do the same…like those people making sounds in the background of the video; picturesque setting doesn’t sell impending doom.

You can watch it on YouTube at “WHEN will the SHTF?!?! MainePrepper and PatriotNurse

She’s ThePatriotNurse and he’s MainePrepper.

Ethel Merle Cook Hodges

October 15, 1937 – March 10, 2014

Ethel Merle Cook Hodges, 76, of League City, Texas, went home to the Lord on March 10, 2014. Her family will receive guests during a visitation from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., Friday, March 14, 2014 which will be immediately followed by a Celebration of Life, both at Memorial Funeral Chapel in College Station, Texas.

Merle was born in Bryan, Texas on October 15, 1937 to parents Marvin Morris and Ottie Mandy (Lambert) Cook. She attended Stephen F. Austin High school in Bryan, Texas. She had many jobs in her lifetime from a soda jerk as a teenager, to a travel agent, to tax preparer, business owner, and as a cashier in the MSC at Texas A&M University before retiring to League City, Texas.

Merle was a devoted mother, grandmother, great-grandmother (GiGi), aunt, sister, and friend. She loved to fellowship with family and friends, loved to travel, was an avid reader, and enjoyed music immensely. Merle had an adventurous spirit, an infectious laugh, and a sparkle in her eye with every smile. She was loved by many and will be greatly missed.

Merle was preceded by death her parents, her siblings Barbara Ella Knight, W. Roderick “Rod” Cook, Morris Lewis Cook and Pansy O. “Pam” Pivonka. Survivors include her son and daughter-in-law Dr. John Hodges Jr., and Patty Hodges; daughter Teresa “Terri” Rogers; daughter and son-in law Barbara Alice Lobdell-Siems and Christopher Siems; sister-in-law Sue Cook; grandchildren Sara Eveland, Steven Hodges, Vincent Lobdell, Katie Lobdell, and Jake Lobdell; great granddaughter Presely Eveland, as well as many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Merle’s name to the Wounded Warrior Project.

The 2014 Primary Election in Texas

Unlike 2012, the date for the 2014 Primary isn’t changing – it’s March 4. Early voting is February 18 – 24, 2014.

Here’s a look at who’s on the ballot.

* Indicates incumbent

U.S. Senate (Texas)

U.S. House of Representatives (District 17)

Texas Senate (District 5)

Texas House of Representatives (District 14)

Texas Governor

NOTE: Governor Rick “Good Hair” Perry is not running for a 4th term.

Texas Lieutenant Governor

Texas Attorney General

NOTE: Greg Abbott is vacating the position to run for Governor.

Texas Supreme Court

Chief Justice

Place 6

NOTE: Jeff Brown’s term doesn’t end until December 31, 2016, but he must run in 2014 to keep his position.

Place 7

Place 8

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Place 3

Place 4

  • Jani Jo Wood (R)
  • Kevin Patrick Yeary (R)
  • Richard Dean Davis (R)

Place 9

  • David Newell (R)
  • W.C. “Bud” Kirkendall (R)

Texas Courts of Appeals (District 10)

Place 2

  • Rex Davis (R)*

Comptroller of Public Accounts

  • Debra Medina (R)
  • Glenn Hegar (R)
  • Harvey Hilderbran (R)
  • Raul Torres (R)
  • Mike Collier (D)

NOTE: Could not confirm if Susan Combs is stepping down.

Commissioner of the General Land Office

  • David Watts (R)
  • George P. Bush (R)
  • John Cook (D)

NOTE: Jerry Patterson is stepping down to run for Lieutenant Governor.

Commissioner of Agriculture

  • Eric Opiela (R)
  • J. Allen Carnes (R)
  • Joe Cotten (R)
  • Sid Miller (R)
  • Tommy Merritt (R)
  • Hugh Asa Fitzsimons III (D)
  • Jim Hogan (D)
  • Richard “Kinky” Friedman (D)

NOTE: Todd Staples is stepping down to run for Lieutenant Governor.

Railroad Commissioner

  • Becky Berger (R)
  • Malachi Boyuls (R)
  • Ryan Sitton (R)
  • Wayne Christian (R)
  • Dale Henry (D)
  • Steve Brown (D)

NOTE: Berry Smitherman is stepping down to run for Texas Attorney General

Texas State Board of Education Member (District 8)

  • Barbara Cargill (R) – Next election Nov. 2016

District Courts – Brazos County

85th District Court Judge

  • Kyle Hawthorne (R)

NOTE: Judge J. D. Langley is stepping down.

272nd District Court Judge

  • Travis Bryan III – Next election ?

361st District Court Judge

  • Steve Smith (R)*
  • Margaret Meece (R)
  • Michele Esparza (R)

Justice of the Peace – Brazos County (Precinct 4)

  • Rose Jones – Next election ?
  • Louis Garcia Jr (R)
  • Tommy (Shannon) Duren (D)
  • Larry J. Johnson (D)
  • Christina S. Butler (D)
  • Darrell Booker (D)
  • Manuel “Manny” Aguilar (D)

District Attorney – Brazos County

  • Jarvis Parsons – Next election Nov. 2016

Sheriff – Brazos County

  • Chris Kirk – Next election Nov. 2016

 Read More

Quick Review of 113th Congress

On October 17, 2013, we narrowly avoided defaulting on the national debt when Congress voted to fund the government for another 4 months and raise the debt ceiling for 5 months.

The agreement funds the federal government in place of an annual budget through Jan. 15, 2014 and lifts the debt limit through Feb. 7, 2014. Source:

It’s a good time to record the names of those involved so that come November 2014 we won’t forget at the voting booth.


The Senate is divided into 3 classes, and each class has a 6 year

This means 1/3 of the Senate is elected every 2 years. The next election for 33% of the seats is November 4, 2014.
The current Senators from Texas are Rafael “Ted” Cruz (R-TX)[Class I] and John Cornyn (R-TX)[Class II].


The current Senate Majority Leader is Harry Reid (D-NV) [Class III]. The Minority Leader is Mitch McConnell (R-KY) [Class II].

House of Representatives

The House of Representatives has 435 members, each representing a district in their state. Each representative is elected to a two-year term. The next election for all seats is November 4, 2014.
My current Representative from Texas District 17 is Bill Flores (R-TX).


The current Speaker of the House is John Boehner (R-OH).
The Majority Leader is Eric Cantor (R-VA). The Minority Leader is Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
This and a lot more information is available on Wikipedia: 113th United States Congress.

The day the government shutdown (again)

It’s bad enough that Congress hasn’t passed a budget in 4 years (Obama signed FY 2010 in March 2010, 5 months after it was due) – but on October 1, 2013, the money ran out, again, and 800,000 government employees were furloughed, forcing the government to shutdown.

This picture was taken a few days later.


“This photo of a boy in a monkey costume outside of Washington’s National Zoo has gone viral and helped symbolize the impact of the government shutdown.” Source:


Replacing the Instrument Panel Cluster (IPC) on a 2005 GMC Yukon

My speedometer was sticking so I wanted to get it fixed. I learned that in most newer GM vehicles – probably ones with electronic odometers – that the whole instrument cluster comes out. The GM dealer will charge you an arm and a leg for about 15 minutes worth of work that you can do yourself.

Doing a Google search I found that several shops offer Instrument Panel Cluster (IPC) repair/replacement. The catch is you are without a car while you ship it off and wait for it to return. I think it was worth it. I used because they’re cheaper than the other guys, and they repair in 1 day rather than replace in several. I also found their YouTube video – GM Instrument Cluster Removal – when I was researching “How To” repair/replace/remove the IPC.

$30.00 shipping outbound
$19.95 shipping inbound
TOTAL: $199.94

GM Dealer quote: $550.00

I saved $350.06!

Replacing Vent Valve Solenoid & Purge Valve Solenoid (EVAP Valve) 2005 GMC Yukon

When you get a check engine light, your parts store can test it with a little electronic device – ask for the check engine light tester.

They go by many names, but look for EVAP Valve or Vent Valve Solenoid & Purge Valve Solenoid. The one in the rear of the car, near the gas tank, is known as the “Vent Valve Solenoid Canister.” The one in the engine compartment is called a ” Purge Valve Solenoid.”

Replacing the one in the engine compartment did the trick. I’d start by replacing that one first then test it.

$25.97 Vent Valve Canister (fuel tank one)
$35.72 Purge Valve (engine compartment one)
TOTAL: $61.69

GM Dealer quote: $281.00

I saved $219.31!

Memorial Day Ribs With A Twist: Smoked and Oven Baked Spare Ribs


I like the recipe Oven Baked Ribs Spare Ribs from, but I’m going to  add a twist: smoke in grill first, then finish in oven.

What You’ll Need:

  • Spare ribs, preferably cut St. Louis style (I used two racks of ribs)
  • Your favorite rib rub (I make my own sometimes)
  • Your favorite barbecue sauce & a bottle of liquid smoke
  • Roll of heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • Disposable, aluminum baking pan, at least 3 inches deep
  • Large paper bag (1 bag per 2 racks of ribs)
  • Outside grill set up for indirect heating
  • Wood chips for smoking in grills (hickory or mesquite)
  • About 6 hours of your spare time (get it)

Step 1: Wash the ribs and remove the membrane from the bone-side. If you didn’t buy St. Louis style ribs, cut off “the skirt” (a small piece of meat on one side that sticks out) so that the rack of ribs look more rectangular. Sprinkle both sides of the ribs with your rib rub. Place the ribs in the baking pan, bone-side down, and cover the pan with plastic wrap or foil to keep the bugs out. Let them sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Step 2: Now for the twist: smoke them outside in the grill. Add your favorite wood chips in the grill and stabilize the temperature between 225 and 250 Fahrenheit. Place the ribs in a rib-stand and place the stand on the side away from the heat – i.e. the indirect heat method. Keep an eye on the temperature and smoke them for 1 hour.


Step 3: Pre-heat your oven to 300 Fahrenheit. Place the ribs in to the baking pan and seal the pan tightly with aluminum foil. (I actually put some sauce on them before I sealed them in the pan.) Place the baking pan in the center of the oven. Bake ribs for 1 hour.

Step 4: Remove the foil from the pan, and drain any fat from the pan. Place ribs back in the baking pan, bone-side down. Leave the foil off. Bake ribs for 1 hour.

Step 5: Drain any fat from the pan. Slather both sides of the ribs with barbecue sauce. Bake ribs for 1 hour or until meat separates from bone. (This should not take more than 2 hours.)

Step 6: Turn off the oven. Remove the pan from the oven, and wrap the rack of ribs in foil. Place the ribs in a paper bag, and fold the top of the bag tightly closed. Let the bag of ribs sit at room temperature for 1 hour.


You are now a BBQ God! …so on the seventh hour, he rested, and enjoyed the fall-off-the-bone spare ribs. Amen.

Personal Notes:

I have a 3-burner gas grill and even 1 burner on low is too hot, so I bought an aluminum charcoal lighting box and put about 20 briquettes in it. It produced a lower, stable temperature. I could have kept feeding it briquettes, but I didn’t want to watch the temperature all day on my inaccurate thermometer.

(Originally published Nov 28, 2011)