Almost There!

When I embarked on this venture to design, build and then manufacture the perfect pipe rack, I had no idea it would take this long!  Granted, some of the delays were beyond my control. As much as I like to think of myself as the “All Being”(master of time, space and dimension), my time does occasionally fall under the mercy of others, not to mention circumstances beyond my control. Such has been the case with this project. December  was a month of challenges and sorrow, not to mention the holiday obligations. January my wife and I took a week’s vacation out-of-town, and then I took a couple of days to help a friend pick up some machinery at the port in L.A.. That is an adventure I may share with you in a future post, then again maybe not. My mentor in manufacturing and design then took ten days off for a cruise in early February, so you can see how my tempus has been fugit-ting  these past couple of months.

I can now see light at the end of the tunnel! In an earlier post I said that I wasn’t reinventing the wheel. Well, I was wrong. We went back to the drawing board on a couple of our design elements and believe we solved those problems. The biggest issue we were dealing with was  how to join the top and bottom pieces together. Somewhere in between Cozumel and Grand Cayman, Big Al had an epiphany that save time, materials, labor and made another design element possible! As a result of these changes, my pipe rack will be different from anything I’ve ever seen in the marketplace. I think when people try it they will smack themselves in the forehead and say “Why didn’t I think of that?”, or they’ll think I’m an cross-eyed idiot.

Extra Extra Stupid.

I still had a gift card in my wallet that I was given for Christmas. I would consider that a good thing. I’ll admit, I like buying things for myself. Anyone who says they don’t like shopping for themself is either mentally ill or a liar. You would think that given I like to buy things for myself and I have a gift card, we are talking about an ideal scenario.

Not so.

There are at least a couple of problems here. First and foremost, I am a bit of a tight-wad. Maybe that’s a bit extreme. Let’s go with frugal. Who am I kidding? A Scotsman would find me thrifty. I’m not that way about everything, but I do look for deals and I’ll often talk myself out of buying things, even things I really want, even when I’ve got a gift card so technically, it’s not even my money that I’m spending. Yes, I know this contradicts what I said in the first paragraph. Second, I don’t really need anything. When you are frugal as I am, you tend not to throw things away until they are absolutely useless and of no monetary value. As a result, through the generosity of friends, family, adoring fans, admirers, stalkers and loved ones, I have accumulated quite a bit of stuff. Between birthdays and Christmas gifts, Valentines Day, anniversaries, MLK’s birthday, etc…..I get tons of gifts, and why not? I’m really quite loveable. You can imagine my dilemma at the department store.

One thing that nobody will buy me is underwear. Yes, I do wear underwear. This will be a tremendous relief to some and a great disappointment to others. Just deal with it.

O.K., I wasn’t entirely honest.

My wife will occasionally buy me underwear. Not the sleek little banana hammock that you are picturing me in. No. It is usually a pair of boxers with a skunk printed on them or a HASMAT logo, or a snake, elephant trunk, you get the picture.

My wallet is about sixteen years old and is held together with one of those thick “Live Strong” style rubber band thingies and duct tape. I think a new one might be in order, but I had better hold on to the old one as a back-up.

Now to the unmentionables section. I scan the shelves to find my brand of choice, preferred style (I’ll leave that to your imagination), and now size. I have yet to cross the threshold into BIG & TALL undershorts, actually stepping down a size to XL! That’s when I realise some thing quite curious, cruel and even stupid.

The XXL an XL are on the bottom shelf! I’d like to shake the hand of the genius who came up with the display concept that has the small people leaping and climbing to reach the top shelf SMALL items and the taller and often huskier individuals to squat, crawl and wallow on the ground the retrieve their items.

I’ve been north of 300 lbs in the past and I am sympathetic to the trials that heavy people face everyday. That doesn’t mean I want to see them floundering about on the floor, struggling to get backup, working up a sweat trying to grab a pair of jeans. I asked my wife and she said the women’s section is arranged the same way.

Sadistic bastards!

Grocery stores have most of the sweets and snacks and rich foods at eye level.

If grocery stores and department stores would swap display techniques, maybe after a few years it would no longer be an issue.


I was asked to be best man for my good friend’s wedding this coming weekend, an honor that I was pleased to accept. This is only the second time that I have been honored in this way and the last time was many years ago, last-minute spur of the moment and didn’t require any effort on my part. I am not saying that there are any expectations or pressures in this case, only those that I, and tradition have placed upon me. It is traditionally the responsibility of the best man to throw a bachelor party and I was not about to take this lightly.

When planning a bachelor party, you must take into consideration the personality, temperament, likes and dislikes etc… of the groom. I don’t think you need worry about the bride as she will not be in attendance. As long as no laws can be proven to have been broken, no STD’s have been spread and no animals have been harmed, I think just about anything else goes.

After setting the date, at least a week in advance of the impending nuptials (in order to permit time for recovery and to handle potential issues tha may arise from said party, legal or emotional) I needed a theme. I tossed a few ideas around and eventually was inspired by the website . These crazy snowbacks do some ridiculously sick things with food! My first idea was to build (assimilate) the Borg ship from Star Trek out of various meat stuffs as the groom is a Trecker. I couldn’t handle the physics of assembling this meat cube so I moved on to the thought of building a figure of the lovely bride, once again out of various meats. I thought this to be a particularly, ironically inspired idea, as the bride is a vegetarian, but the groom wasn’t sure he could deal with his friends eating his fiance in effigy. Then, it hit me. A bachelor party is the very definition of a sausage fest.

Armed with my theme, “Sausage Fest”, I began to accumulate several varieties g   glorious, ground animal parts with no certain end game in mind. I finally decided that the main course would be a sausage, stuffed with sausages and even though it was slightly off theme, wrapped in bacon. First was to pre-cook the bratwurst, mild and sweet Italian sausage, andouille, hot dogs and smoked kielbasa in beer. Then onto the grill with all of those.

Mean while, the guests were enjoying champagne (Miller High Life, the champagne of beers!) along with chips and salsa, a bacon weave, candied bacon and shots of Jack Daniels. While the links were searing on the grill, pork chorizo and maple breakfast sausage were flattened out on parchment into one giant, continuous sheet. Now cover the sausage sheet with pepperoni slices, fill with grilled sausages, drown in home-made JD bbq sauce, roll into one giant sausage full of sausages, cover in bacon, and bake at 375 for about an hour.

Imagine my dismay upon noticing that I had forgotten to include the two pounds of Cheddar Lil’ Smokies and Vienna Sausages! No need to panic. One of the guest suggested a Vienna Sausage pate’. Genius! Just add some white and black truffle oil, apply immersion blender and spread on crackers. Surprisingly delicious. As for the Cheddar Lil’ Smokies, I just happened to have an extra pie crust lying around, so it got filled with lil’ smokies and bbq sauce, covered with top layer of crust and into the oven. I forgot to mention the cheese sauce that was bubbling on the stove, waiting to smother all that meaty goodness. Velveta, green chiles, JD, white truffle oil all melted together into a creamy, gooey, golden pot of heaven.

Throw in a few more drinks, some cigars, hot guitar licks, to-go containers (there is no way I could finish those left-overs by myself!) and the requisite blu-ray porn in HD on the 50 inch plasma and you have the makings of a successful bachelor bash.

I am just now coming completely out of coma-like state induced by that evening of excess, and already planning the next one!

Pigs beware.

Reliance on Imported Oil

For as long as I can remember, our country has been at the mercy of foreign oil producers. While I am aware of several of the reasons why other nations provide us with most of our oil, I would much rather buy American.

To that end, I took a trip out to the Queen Creek Olive Mill. I think it is pretty cool to have an olive oil producer so close by here in Arizona. California has been producing high quality olives and oil for a long time, since it was a Spanish settlement. Arizona is the perfect environment for producing olives. Olive trees have been extensively used in our landscaping in desert for decades, the fruit usually going to waste or becoming a nuisance, smashed into our sidewalks and crapped onto our cars by birds. As I love food and high quality ingredients, I am excited to see Arizona’s olives finally going to good use!

So after making the long, slow drive out through the clusterf%&k that is Queen Creek (who planned this community?), we parked in the dusty lot, which for some reason smelled like canine feces, and made our way into the store where fortunately the poo smell ended and was replaced by the glorious aromas of olive oil and garlic. The place was packed! Everywhere you looked there was a line. A line for samples, a line to get a table, a line to get a drink, a line to go to the crapper, there was even a line to wait in if you were undecided as to which line you wanted.

I am not a big fan of waiting in line.

Well, since I had no intention of waiting in any of those lines, I decided to browse through the store. That didn’t last long either. I don’t begrudge a guy for trying to make a buck. In fact, I encourage the entrepreneurial inclination, but the prices in that place seemed a touch on the high side to me. At $10.95 for  250 ml of olive oil, it was too rich for my blood. Don’t get me wrong, the oil is fantastic. Fresh, fruity with just the right amount of acidity. In different economy, I might keep a bottle around the kitchen for those times when olive oil is the star ingredient in a recipe.

If I didn’t have to wait in line for it.

The way people were scooping things up, I would expect they are doing well without need of my assistance, financially or by way of advice.


Going Postal

I went to the post office today to pick up a package that they were unable to deliver to me yesterday. Before you jump to any conclusions based on my previous posts, let me stop you dead in your tracks by saying that I had a very positive experience.

To begin with, there was plenty of parking to be had. A far cry from the conditions when last I was there. When I entered, I was pleased to see a short line to the counter. The three clerks that were working seemed more than enough to handle the work load. The line behind me did fill up rather quickly but still, I was confident that they had a short wait ahead of them. The guy behind me was walking with a cane and in obvious pain so I let him go ahead of me. This isn’t relative to the story, it only provided as an example of what a generous human being I am

It was then my turn to be served, so up to the counter I went. The pleasant, middle-aged asian woman asked how she could help me. After I told her the purpose of my visit, she took the slip from me that was left by the postman and, instead of just asking for my drivers licence, she asked to see the handsome picture. She was obviously not your average postal clerk. This is a bright, observant woman of taste and refinement. Then she said something that people who know me will be as shocked as I was to hear.

“It is so nice to see such a lovely smile!”

I don’t smile all the time like some kind of grinning, idiot clown or an annoying cartoon character. I smile spontaneously, when it is appropriate. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be enough for most people I encounter. While smiles are usually associated with happiness, the lack of a smile is often associated with unhappiness. Sometimes, out of the blue, people who are close to me will ask me “What’s wrong?”. I’ll reply “Nothing’s wrong. Why?”. That’s when I’m told that I look angry, upset, sad, too serious or maybe grumpy. Don’t get me wrong, I have those moments too. Frequently, come to think of it. What is upsetting to me is that hardly anyone seems to be able to tell the difference between my normal facial expression and more negative emotions.

The postal lady then told me that everyone else today had been “bitchy ” so maybe I just seemed pleasant by comparison. I accused her of mocking me but she insisted that she was serious and even told me, “You made my day!”.

Now I’m sure she was mocking me so I kicked ankle-boys cane out from under him on my way out to my truck.

He was probably faking it to take advantage of the do-gooders out in the world.

So much for smiling and being nice to people.


Just like many people who you may know, I was victimized over the holiday season. To look at me, you would not think that I would be a likely target. I don’t come across as someone who is easily manipulated or bamboozled but still, I was targeted by, and fell prey to a clever and insidious predator  over and over and over again these past six weeks or so.

Who, you may ask, is this wily foe?

Delicious food!

Most of the year, I do pretty well avoiding snacks in between meals, candies, cookies, treats, cheese logs, cured meats, and the like. I wake up, have a sensible breakfast, a light lunch, a piece of fruit in the afternoon and a reasonable dinner. As soon as Thanksgiving rolls around,all of  that goes right out the window when the constant barrage of snacks begin. If that were all I had to deal with, I might be alright but along with the snacks are commercials, grocery store ads, emails from every restaurant, liquor store, confectioner and pork smoker on the planet.

The temptation is simply too great. I am drawn to sweet and savory food like moth to a flame. Like an addict to heroin. Like a pedophile to clown school. You get the point. Once sucked in, there is no escape. One day I’m walking by a bowl of pistachios, casually scooping a few into my hand, and the next thing you know I’m up to my elbows in dark chocolate, maple covered, bacon wrapped cheesecake. Just thinking about it makes me want to spread the rubber sheets out on to the bed, cover it with olive oil, lamb chops, risotto, maybe some white truffles… my mind is exploding with endless gastronomic possibilities! Wow! is it just me, or does anyone else need a cigarette?

How can I not gain 15 or 20 pounds over the holidays?

Something has got to be done to stop these predators from ruining so many innocent lives. Before we can do that, we have find out who is really responsible for this villainy. Who is paying for all of these irresistibly tempting media campaigns?

I think we should start with Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.


It started off like any other trip to the mailbox. I was returning home from running a few errands and noticing the time, I was fairly certain that the mail would have arrived by now. We have one of those community mailboxes at the end of the block so I turned down the side street that would take me there on the way to my house. It was then that tragedy struck. I was driving well under the speed limit of 25 mph, but when the little girl darted out from behind the parked SUV, it was too late for me to stop. The impact didn’t seem that great, but as I jumped from my car in horror, I saw her mangled, motionless body and crumpled little bike lying in the slowly spreading pool of blood. As I was dialing 911, I heard a scream from a couple of doors down. A young woman, hysterical, ran to the little girls side. The police arrived shortly… I think, I guess I was in shock. I gave them my statement and watched as the ambulance drove silently away with Ashley (that’s the name the young woman was screaming).

While the  investigation rightfully determined that I was not at fault. I still had to live with the fact that I was driving the vehicle that ended Ashley’s life.

O.K., this didn’t happen.


It is only a matter of time before this happens to me or my wife or someone else on our street. Between the unsupervised children, playing in the middle of the street and the giant trucks parked on street (why do they bother building garages and driveways?) there is no speed at which you can drive safely. And when the kids do run out in front of you, causing you to stop abruptly, they stay there, staring at you as if you’ve done something wrong, before reluctantly moving (barely) out of your way.

When I was a child, we didn’t ride our bikes in the street. We rode on the sidewalks and in our driveways because that’s what our parents allowed us to do, and we were watched while we did it. If we ventured out into the street, we would get yelled at. If we persisted in doing so we would lose privileges or possibly be spanked (abused, to use the modern term).

We didn’t have helmets. Hey, maybe that’s the difference. If we had helmets, our parents could have relaxed a little. If a kid gets hit wearing a helmet, the chances of survival are better, right? How about just putting an orange cone in the middle of the street to warn drivers? We’ve got neighbors that do that. You can play all the Angry Birds you want, or text or talk on the phone or … you get the point, or you can go inside and not have to watch the kids at all. To hell with the people who are lawfully driving through the neighborhood who now must alter their course to compensate for their of parenting.

Please do not be mislead by the title of the post. I’m not advocating speed bumps on residential streets. I’m saying that’s what your children could turn into if you don’t keep an eye on them.

My original title was “Roadkill”.

You know me, I didn’t want to offend anyone.