So like many of folks living in the State of Florida, I'm thankful the storm didn't impact our area as badly as it could have. Don't get me wrong, there were large parts of the state that got hammered , sadly, with loss of life and property. Many lost everything they have to include family and friends. I ask that everyone continue to pray for those folks and the folks impacted in Texas and Louisiana. The other day, I ran into a large convoy of Texas Game Wardens that were heading south to help out.....just like our Florida FWC officers did for them. Nice. With the majority of the storm heading up to Georgia and other parts north, I've been doing like a lot of others which includes a lot of prayer, taking stock of the storm's impact, doing some reading, thinking about what we need to do to be better prepared for the next storm/natural event, and watching t.v. Sadly, shows like Keeping up with Kardashians, Real Housewives of the whatever, and CNN are still on. To add to the televised nightmare, there is a new show on Animal Planet called, and I'm not kidding, "My Big Fat Pet Makeover." Apparently, someone, maybe sober....maybe not, in the Animal Planet Executive Suite said, "Hey, the Kardashians and CNN are still on, so why don't we do a show about fat pets and how we help the pet's people get them slim again." I'm no animal expert; however, maybe....just maybe.....you should stop feeding your pet 4,390 empty calories a day and let it run once every solar eclipse or so. But that's just me. It also got me doing a lot of pondering about my BBQ status. I haven't participated in any competition in over a year, and my beloved Frankensmoker 3.2 is disabled due to a horrible miscalculation on my part. So given our current meteorological state, I've had time to rethink a lot of things to do with BBQ. Primarily and before I can even consider returning to the circuit, I will have to get Frankie up and going again which will include designing and finding someone to fabricate a new firebox. I ideally would like a firebox that will be sealed and will allow for a charcoal basket. I'm sure the right resources are out there. Anyone with any ideas, please message me. Also, I think I want to dedicate more time to doing BBQ for the sake of doing BBQ. I enjoy BBQ, I enjoy eating, so why not do more of the two things I like most? I want to play around with rubs using different spices. I don't have any grand ideas that I will sell my stuff since I don't really have the BBQ circuit cred' to make it like many of the Titan of Smoke have done before me; however, who knows what the future holds. My fear is that BBQ is waning in popularity which is sad to me. There are fewer and fewer t.v. shows that focus on all things BBQ, and there has been a decline in the number of competitions. On the upshot, there will always be a strong base to support good BBQ since BBQ isn't about competitions or t.v. as much as it is a way and style of cooking. Additionally, there are BBQ restaurants in both chain and individual forms that continue to grow across the country, the number of sauces and rubs available at local stores continues to increase in variety and styles, and people who just enjoy good, slow-cooked, ol' fashioned, smoke-filled, take-the-secret-of-the-sauce-recipe-to-the-grave, lip-smacking good BBQ keep on enjoying their body weight in BBQ each year. Whether you call it BBQ, Bar-B-Que, Barbecue, or Heaven slathered in a sweet and sticky sauce, we gotta keep the flame burning with the accompanying thin, blue flame. If the Kardashians and the Real Housewives of Hair Product #3 can stay popular, I think the future for BBQ is pretty bright. It would be too sad to consider otherwise. Y'all take care, and Riley says, "Hello and I'm not going out to pee in that."
So, as usual, I'm sitting at my computer with the cursor taunting me by its steady blinking. With each little blink, I swear I can actually hear it saying, "Well......we're waiting!" This got me thinking which is usually a bad idea in my case. With all that is going on in this world from floods, to storms, to protests over pick a subject ranging from racial issues to the price of mismatched socks, to the prevailing attitude of "me, me me", it got me wondering the following: Do we as a collective group choose to focus on what's going wrong or do we choose to focus on what's going right? In therapy, we talk a lot about how we are choosing to look at things and what do we tell ourselves about a particular situation. Trust me, it's easier said than done. I get that. However, we can choose to develop a particular mindset or culture if you will. If everything stinks, then you are right....everything will stink. Just like in BBQ, if you choose to go into a competition dreading the work, dreading the sleeplessness, dreading the heat, dreading the costs, dreading the table of death, then I 100% guarantee you it will be a dreadful experience. As a point of example, I think back to our first competition. We didn't know shoo-shoo from shineola; however, we had a ball because we went into it with an excitement that comes from something new and challenging. We finished near the bottom in the backyard division, but you know what? We didn't care. We were excited about finding the next competition and just hanging out together. That was our mindset. We chose to look past all the freezing, bickering, sleeplessness, and the general 'Charlie Foxtrot' our first competition was because we chose to have a blast. I wonder how many still have the excitement for BBQ, for life, for finding the simple enjoyment in watching the world go by, for watching my slightly psychotic dog play with his food before eating, for watching others experience genuine.......happiness? Granted, there are a lot of reasons we could justify a rather dim view of this great big mud ball we call Earth at this time; however, I wanted to point out some great reasons to remember it ain't all bad. (1) Operation BBQ Relief. Since 2011 OBR has deployed to 21 states over a period of 199 days following 34 disasters. These are all volunteers that bring food to areas reeling from some sort of calamity. Did I mention they were volunteers? (2) Brett Culp is an independent film maker who made the movies, "Legends of the Knight" and most recently "Look to the Sky." These are not-for-profit movies that talk about inspiration and how people come together and overcome. All the proceeds from the screenings across the globe go to a charity of the theater's choice. The first one "Legends of the Knight" sells out wherever it is shown. "Look to the Sky" was just released in Australia and will be in U.S., and the same will happen with it. I highly recommend you visit his site at www.Brettculp.com. If the movie clips don't get you, you might need to go hug a puppy for a while. (3) I don't recall the person's name, but he is an elderly gentleman that knits caps for newborn babies. He does it because he chooses to do so. (4) There was a retired teacher I read about in Sean Dietrich's daily article that goes to thrift stores looking for children's clothing that she buys, washes, presses, and delivers to school so kids that need clothes can have something. No charge....all for free. (5) I know Rub and many others have been involved in the Backpack Program. This is a program that provides kids with backpacks full of food so the kids won't be hungry when not in school. (6) I saw a picture on FB of a BBQ pro holding his grandchild, and he was grinning from ear to ear. Nice. My point in all of this is a simple question, "Upon what will you choose to focus?" I could go on for days and days, just ask anyone that knows me. I challenge everyone out there to find the good. I promise you, it's out there, and you really don't have to look that hard to find it. Me, I've got plenty about which to be happy. Not because I'm rich, not because I'm perfect (far from it), and not because I'm handsome (again, far from it), but I'm happy because I choose to be. I hope and pray everyone reading this will find some merit in it, and I pray y'all all can each find that reason to be happy.......genuinely, toe-tingling, toothy-grinning, happy. Y'all take care, and Riley says, "Hello."