Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Proud to Announce the Birth of a Bouncing 125 lbs. Baby Boy.......Smoker

Well, despite all the films and all the talks about protection and staying loyal to the Frankensmoker Mk. 2.2, we've gone and had a new baby.  As they say, "Accidents will happen", and by 'accidents' I don't mean the kind that come from a large cup of coffee with a bran muffin mixed with a traffic jam.  I seem to have the predilection towards creating BBQ smokers out of wood, and this one is no different.  Once something gets stuck in my head, I must build it.  Kind of like Noah and the Ark. Ok, maybe not to that extent, but you get the general idea.  With that said, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Igor Mk. 1.0.  It is a pellet smoker with the 12-inch assembly coming from Smoke Daddy.com.  I'm happy with the price of the assembly.  Yes, I probably could have purchased an already build pellet smoker; however, where is the fun in that?  Yes, it would have been cheaper.  Yes, I could have spent my weekends doing other stuff.  Yes, I could have had it right then, but what the heck.  As my wife says, "Yes, you could have bought the one at Lowe's, but no one will have one like this one."  I agree......because she is right and mostly because I'm scared of her and learned to not sass her back.  For y'all up north 'sass her back' is a southern thing.  Onward......Igor is made from 3/4 inch cabinet-grade, birch plywood, and I lined it with 1/4 inch cement backer board.  It stands at 4 ft. and is 22 inches wide in the cook chamber.  I have estimated, and could be slightly off, the weight at 398,078 pounds.
It is your basic cabinet build:  1 1/4 inch wood screws, plywood, profanity (minimally), Tylenol, and coffee.  The gestation period was two full Saturdays and 8 trips to Lowe's and a local hardware store. I went with cement backer board as I was thinking along the lines of a masonry-lined BBQ pit.  With mass, comes heat stability.  That's what the voices told me anyway.
From there, it was basically attaching the heart and brain to the box.  That's where Smoke Daddy came in.  I've been intrigued with pellet smokers and have heard a lot of pros/cons of them.  The biggest pro is I can set it and walk away and go to bed.  That's a big plus.  Not that I think the Frankensmoker Mk. 2.2 is not a great unit because it is.  This is just a new direction without abandoning the old.  Kind of like kids.  You have the first kid and you learn on that one.  You know the one:  the parents are taking the kid to the E.R. if his/her farts smell particularly bad.  By the 15th kid, you're to the point of, "If you run in the house with scissors and gouge out an eye, you better not get blood on my carpet young man!"  You know who I'm talking about.  We all know them and love them dearly.
There is a term in psychology called "Neologism".  Basically, it is where someone makes up words.  I had first-hand experiences with this over the last two weekends.  Mostly in an attempt to stay away from profanity.  I created my own language of frustration.  This was a direct result of trying to put in a bolt while simultaneously trying to hold up a 25 pound unit.  Thankfully, my loving wife came home and was able to rescue me from my own self.  Did I mention I'm not the most patient man in the history of impatient men?  From the mounting of the heart/brain came the racks, doors, and heat deflector.
By this point, alcohol was looking like a very real and viable option.  I was tired, was under the firm belief my thighs were going to explode from all the squatting I had been doing, had 3 very small and painful foil tape cuts, and I still wasn't done.  By this point, the child was well on its way into becoming the physical manifestation of my brain race.  Now, it starts to get fun.  Thankfully, I have a very good friend with a welder and little sense for safety.  He let me weld the racks, and I'm happy to say the neighborhood is still intact and not on the 6:00 news as the lead story of a massive fire.
Door attached, seals in place, brain loaded with pellets, and with instructions in hand, it was time to light the fire and kick some tires.  The assembly IMMEDIATELY made this horrible noise.  We had to shut down the unit only to discover some of the wiring had made its way into the fan.  Thankfully, Jimmy Wayne caught it before there was any damage, and we were able to put some electrical tape around the frayed wires.  I was a bit surprised to find the fan assembly had no shroud around it to keep stuff out......by stuff I mean critical wires.  I had initially worried that the box was too big, but my worries were quickly put aside when it got to 400 degrees in about three minutes.  Following the directions, we lowered it to 240 degrees where is cruised effortlessly.  All that worry for nothing.....which isn't uncommon.  So, without much ado, I present to you, the people of the world, the Igor Mk. 1.0.  (Insert drum roll with Ta-Daaaaaa here).  The only thing left to do is to seal the wood.  I'm going for the minimalist effort and will keep it clean.
I did change out the exhaust to extend it so it didn't blow the heat right back onto the top of the smoker.  I think this weekend will see a butt or maybe some chicken taking the plunge into the Igor. His big brother is very proud as are his mama and daddy.  Y'all take care.  Riley says, "Hello."

Monday, September 29, 2014

Did You Hear Something......It Came from Porktoberque.

So, yet another BBQ competition has come and gone, and here I sit at my computer trying to describe Grandpa's Pride BBQ's outcome.  I thought the picture was appropriate, so please use it as a guide as you deliberate how you think we performed.  Any questions?  With that said, we finished 24th out of 29, and given the WIDE range of scores, I'm happy with that.  There were many positives taken from this outing.  Positive #1:  We didn't come in dead last.  Positive #2:  There was no angry mob of villagers with torches and pitchforks banging on Shangri-La while shouting, "You call this BBQ?!?!?!?!?!?"......which was nice.  Positive #3:  I managed to get home before backing Shangri-La into my house, and I mean literally "into my house."  Minor damage to a running light but major damage to my ego.  I also learned a really good lesson:  When one puts one's truck into park, it is a generally accepted grand idea to put one's truck into park prior to exiting said truck.  I never knew I could move with the agility and speed of a hungry puma.  Maybe I have super powers and haven't tapped into them yet.  I could even be a super hero and just don't know it yet.  Agility and speed of a hungry puma, strength of 10 3rd graders, eye sight of a marmoset, and reflexes of a crock pot.  Yeah........probably not.  I'm almost certain I would make a really bad super hero.  Before you judge me and you know you are, I was really tired.  Moving on to the good stuff, well mostly, BBQ.  So Porktoberque was another nice event held in my home town of Dothan which lies in the heart of God's Country or Alabama as some call it.  I was able to get there and get set up just in time to find I, along with a few others, had deeply upset the circus.  How in all that is fun and quirky does one manage to single-handily upset an entire circus?  I mean come on....it's the FREAKIN' CIRCUS!!!  Apparently, we weren't supposed to set up as early as we did.  Who knew?  This mix up triggered a traumatic relapse, and I had dreams all night of clown commandos launching a sneak attack against my person.  Hey, I saw Killer Clowns from Outer Space.  I know what they can do, and it ain't pretty.  Sure, they look all fun and happy twisting their balloons into dogs, hats, and various dictators throughout history, but I make it a point of never trusting a man in really big shoes and enough make up to make RuPaul say, "Damn girlfriend, back off the eye liner!"  Anyway, we got set up and actually got prep done pretty early.  The cook went well, or so I thought.  Our chicken looked really good, and the taste was not bad....it just was missing that little something.  Ribs turned out fairly good unless you were a judge.  In which case, they were calling for my head.  Butt was our best entry at 14th place, and our brisket tightened up and was described by one person as 'spicy'.  At least I think she said spicy.  After all, it was hard to understand what she said under the oxygen mask put on her by the paramedics.  It may be time to readjust my rubs.  That or submit them to the U.S. Army since water boarding was outlawed.  Pansies.  Anyway, the competition was not a total loss.  I did gain some more experience, got to see some people that I do enjoy seeing and finally had some of the good groceries prepared by one Forrest Dilmore.  He is to the dutch oven cooking process as Michelangelo was to painting really big places.  His strawberry cobbler is enough to make a grown man openly weep.  I'm not kidding,  Really good food.  He prepared brisket and rice, biscuits, mac-n-cheese, the aforementioned cobbler, and greens.  Thank you again Forrest.  Congrats to Uncle Kenny's BBQ for taking Grand and Woodhouse BBQ for RGC.  It was nice to see Ed Lovett of Poolside BBQ, Bobby Lankford from Haulin' Butt BBQ, Forrest Dilmore of Forrest's Fine Foods, Jim Bentley of JB's BBQ, and the family of Wink's BBQ.  I even met a couple of new people like Keith Fern.  Prayers for continued recovery my new friend.  I'm sure I'm missing many so please forgive me.  All in all, it was a good time with pretty nice weather.  Kerry Ferrell did a great job as always.  I may not have another competition this year due to job requirements; however, I will try to do one in Perry or in Jacksonville.  If I go to Jacksonville, I get to see an old friend from my days of fighting the red hoard, Jim Haskett.  We served together in Montana and played many a mean game of Rummy 5000.  I do remember him fondly and a great guy.  Time will tell.  Anyway, y'all take care, and Riley says, "Hey dummy!!!  You just ran into the house.......moron."  Stupid dog.  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Was it Bo knows or was it Bono's?

I do so enjoy a road trip.  It doesn't matter to where, just so long as I am on the open road and get to maybe see a sight I haven't seen before.  Granted, I have seen some stuff on the open road that shouldn't be done on the open road.  I mean seriously people, GET A ROOM!  It's not even safe for crying out loud.  Back to the positives of a road trip.  I see it as a chance to meet new people, see neat places, and maybe if I'm a good little boy, my lens-corrected eye will spy a yet previously unsampled BBQ spot.  On that note, so I was on my way to a week-long conference in America's very expensive playground, AKA Orlando, when a friend of mine and I decided to get together for lunch.  A sidebar about the hotel in Orlando:  The hotel in Orlando that was booked for me was very nice which translated into very expensive.  I was charged $18.00 per day for the privilege of parking at the hotel.  I was also charged a $20.00 resort fee which covered internet and one, yes one, bottle of $7.00 water that looked like I could have gotten a case of them from a certain big-box store for about $3.00.  I actually had a little bird come right up to me and hang out with me for a bit.  I half expected to see a fee on my bill for "friendly fowl interaction:  $20.00".  I'm not kidding.  I digress of course and back to my luncheon.  So my friend Kenny has been a dear friend of mine since our time together at the Capstone, and he is now a husband to a very nice lady and father to two adorable little ladies.  He also works for the University of Florida.  Anyway, getting off the Interstate of Death in Gainesville, AKA I-75, I quickly found Bono's BBQ.  How fortunate the bathroom was near the entrance since I was certain I was going to die no less than five times on I-75 or experience my own version of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and needed a bit of freshening up.  No, Bono's BBQ has nothing to do with the bespectacled lead singer of the wildly popular Irish music group U2......at least I don't think so, and it is a chain restaurant.  Typically, I don't write about chain restaurants, so I may be breaking my own rule, but since its my blog, I guess it's OK.  No, there was no slamming screen door, nor was there a dog sleeping on the porch, but what the heck.  I'm a rebel.  The outside looked like an older diner complete with resplendent and highly polished chrome banding around the top which was pretty neat.  Despite the orange and blue posts around the porch, it was a pretty nice looking place (this is home of the University of Florida after all.  At least they are in the SEC). Upon entering this fine establishment, I was met with the most heavenly smell of open-pit BBQ.  To my very happy surprise, I saw the meat getting smoked over an open pit.  Good looking stuff if I'm honest.  They even had a sign that said something to the effect of not trusting any BBQ that comes off a pit you can't see.  Did I mention the smell was out of this world?   Pretty sure I did but it is worth mentioning again.  My friend Kenny stated Bono's has a following on Facebook and in Gainesville.  I can see why.  Being the sampling type of guy I am and needing to increase my blood sugar so I could have cat-like reflexes on I-75, I decided to order the large, three-meat combo with a side of mac-n-cheese and Brunswick stew.  The very nice waitress named Emily quickly and politely took my order and scurried off to fill my plate with what I hoped would be as good as U2's album "The Joshua Tree."  The three meats ordered were brisket (my personal favorite BBQ meat), pulled pork, and sausage.  While waiting, I decided to sample the four sauces that were available.  Bono's had two mustard-based sauces and two others with one of those being a sweet sauce.  I have limited experience with mustard-based sauces, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I may even have to try to create my own.  Why not, but in fairness and to quote U2, "I Still Haven't Found What I What I'm Looking For" when it comes to my own original sauce.  So there is that.  When I get my order, I see that I was given plenty of meat to sample.  The brisket had a nice bark and the hickory sauce complimented it well.  I should have specified I wanted brisket from the wet end but forgot.  The brisket was pretty good with a nice mild smokey flavor.  The pulled pork had a nice color and good flavor.  You could tell it had been kissed by the sweet smoke.  The sweet mustard-based sauce worked well with it.  The sausage was sans sauce and tasted like most other sausages you can buy commercially.  Not bad and had a good taste to it.  I didn't ask if they make their own sausages or not.  I would like to know if they are made for them as I would like to know where to get some.  The mac-n-cheese was nothing to rave about but it was good and tasted like a lot of other mac-n-cheeses I have had.  The brunswick stew had a lot of meat in it which was nice.  Most brunswick stews tend to have minimal amounts of chunked BBQ meat.  The flavor didn't have the tang I'm used to in my part of the woods, but still it too was pretty good.  I wasn't disappointed I ordered it.  Of course there was the obligatory garlic Texas toast which didn't detract.  The coup de grace was the banana pudding.  I liked it.  It was a cold banana pudding with whipped cream.  I didn't hold it against them since it tasted good.  This is the south where we do hot banana  pudding with meringue....at least, that's how my Grandmother Stone did it which means that's how all the world should do it.  All in all, the price was more than fair for the amount of food I got.  The service was very good as the host, a guy whose name I didn't get, and our very nice waitress Emily made sure we were taken good care of.  Would I recommend Bono's?   Sure.  Why not?  The smell is great, the service is just as great, and the BBQ was good too.  I wonder if there is BBQ in Ireland, home of the band U2?  Maybe if U2 plays Gainesville, Bono will come to eat at Bono's.  I'd pay to see it.  You can go to Bono's website at www.bonosbarbq.com to see their menu and list of locations if you are so inclined.  If you get a chance, stop by and tell Emily hello.  Y'all take care and Riley says hello.  So from the road, this is Jeff signing off.  Now if you will excuse me, I have to go and sell a kidney to pay for the hotel and 'friendly fowl interaction fee'.  Stay tuned as Team Grandpa's Pride gets tuned up for the 2nd Annual BBQ and Blues Festival in Bainbridge, GA.

Monday, April 14, 2014

It was the best of times.....it was the worst of times. Another day in the world of BBQ.

I seem to recall there was a pretty popular book that started out, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."  Seems to me like someone knows a little something about the rough and tumble world of competitive BBQ.  Since my last literary diatribe, Team Grandpa's Pride has competed in two events.  The Marianna Arts Festival and the Tri-State BBQ Festival.  To say it was two sides of the same coin would be an understatement.  In Marianna, we basically blew chunks and got a DQ in our ribs for some 'follical enhancements' that made their way onto our rib entry.....in other words we had some hairs of some type get onto our ribs somehow.  Se la vie as they say in the land of the french fries.  It's not always about proving a point as it about taking it on the chin with class.  Marianna was more of a shake down cruise since we hadn't competed since Perry in December.  I'm glad we did.  While we may have finished dead last in Marianna, it was a good practice for the event in Dothan.  My grandfather, always the optimist, had some good advice about the competitions, "Well, if you finished last in Marianna, you can't do any worse in Dothan."  True and valid point.  Of course that's sort of like saying, "Well you don't have TB but you do have gangrene of the Medulla Oblongota."  See my point?  While we drug up the rear in Marianna, we finished 11 out of 29 in Dothan with two call outs.  Not bad....not too bad.  Congrats to Big Kahuna for taking Grand and B&T for RG in Dothan.  Big Kahuna also took GC in Marianna. Our Friends at Q-Fused got 1st in Pork.....which was nice.  I got to hang out with B&T a little in Marianna.  Very nice people and pretty darn good at the 'Q'.  In the course of these two diametrically opposed events we learned many things:  1)  You have to turn the t.v. antenna to the north to get the Price Is Right to come in clear. (2) Never mess with a style or recipe in a competition.  That is not the time to tinker.  (3)  Remember #2 because I have said it before.  (4) There is a fine line between being too close to the port-a-potties and too far.  Just saying.  (5)  BBQ people are really great people.  (6)  Never give up.  (7) Never eat questionable cheese.  Of course, we had Shangri-La at the competitions which made life a good bit easier.  We keep improving and will one day be a powerful BBQ force to be reckoned with.....sort of like North Korea only without all the weirdness and family assassinations.  The weather was great at both events and we had a really good time.  Back-to-back events aren't as hard as I thought they would be.  I mean after all, I got to work 5 days a week and that is back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back right?  As for hanging out and I don't mean in the Pee Wee Herman sort of way, I got to spend some time with Forrest Dilmore and Q-Fused BBQ.  Q-Fused said they found us a hair net for us but lost it.  I hope they find it.  I have a special spot on the outside of the Frankensmoker Mk. 2.2 for it.  I will display it with pride.  That's how I roll.  As always, Sherri was very supportive of our team's efforts.  So with all that said, there is a new FBA event this year in Panama City.  It will be the weekend after the Bainbridge event.  I guess I'll need to get my tramp stamp put on my lower back.  That's a lot of ink folks.  Maybe I'll just get 'born to bbq' tattooed on my chest in those latin looking letters.  Then again, maybe not.  I can just see it as I get older and flabbier, it will morph from 'born to bbq' to 'born a boob' and no one needs that.  Y'all take care and Riley says, "I'll be danged, he can win some."  Stupid mutt.   Also, Easter is upon us and hope everyone takes a moment to remember the reason for Easter:  The resurrection of our Lord and the gift of Salvation brought to us by Him.  Y'all take care.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

BBQ School.....I Wonder How the Sweat Hogs Would Have Done?

So Spring has sprung and love is in the air.  When I say 'love' I mean pollen which is kind of like love on an arboreal level anyway.  The South is shaking off one of the coldest winters in a while, the temps are rising, plants are budding out, bees are buzzing, birds are chirping, Riley is licking himself more that usual, and the BBQ competition circuit is once again heating up.  Team Grandpa's Pride will compete at the Marianna Arts Festival and BBQ Competition as well as the Tri-State BBQ Festival which are in April.  Just like the Cleveland Indians, we are hoping for a season better than last year's.  I've made good use of the off season by working on rubs, technique, and presentation, so when I got an e-mail about a local BBQ cooking school, I was quite pleased.  Now, for those that know me, know I have the strength of 10 3rd graders and a mental capacity on the same scale, and the thought of going back to school sounds like as much fun as when I had my 'male, birth-control, optional, outpatient' surgery done by a doctor with the shakes a few years back.......only not as much fun. No man ever wants to hear another man say to him, "Go ahead and take off your clothes, I'll be right back." At least, I don't, but that's just me.  However, when I got this e-mail about a BBQ Cook School, well let's just say I'm was as happy as that weird kid from the 4th grade with a brand new bottle of glue just waiting to be smeared on his hands and peeling it off as it dries.  You know the kid:  Sat in the back, smelled kind of like mustard and old cheese, two left shoes, while once in a while to be heard saying, "Sticky..."  Yeah that kid.  Excited.  I have often contemplated taking a BBQ Cooking School just to increase my skill set and abilities....that and so a friend of mine will quit saying my BBQ sucks.  She says she is kidding, but...  Anyway, I have talked to Sherri about taking a course to enhance my skills.  As always, she was very supportive and asked with a somewhat anticipatory grin if the course could last up to six weeks and was maybe in Upper Saskatchewan. For some reason when I told her they were only a weekend and local, she became all sad and down all the while muttering, "Lord give me strength."  Go figure. There are many schools from which to choose.  Myron Mixon has a school at his home in Unadilla, GA which will set you back about $750.00.  I hear it is outstanding though.  Rob 'Rub' Bagby of Swamp Boyz fame also does a cooking school.  I'm not sure the cost but as much as he wins, I'm sure it is worth every cent.  Nice guy too.  Now, one of the nicest guys on the circuit, Forrest Dilmore, is offering a BBQ Cooking School.  For a weekend, you get a meet and greet as well as a whole lot of education on FBA and KCBS BBQ cooking, meat selection, and presentation for $400.00.  Not bad, not too bad at all especially when you consider the fact he has done quite well on the BBQ circuit.  When we were in Perry at the BBQ contest, he let me in on his plans, and I have been like a kid waiting for word that the elf strike was over and Santa really would come this year.  Thanks mom and dad.  I'm sure when he said that I let out a little squeal of delight because his name gets called a lot.  My brother used the word 'squeal', and it wasn't so much a 'squeal' as it was a manly expression of excitement in a higher octave.  I don't think he is Catholic so there should be no shoes or erasers flying at me for not paying attention thank you very much my sixth grade teacher Mr. Meahan.  I am interested in the school as I hope many others will be.  I can't help but wonder if the Sweat Hogs from Welcome Back Kotter were to take the class, which one would I be?  Vinnie Babarino was always cool.  Me?  Yeah, not so much.  In fact, I think I am the anti-cool.  Washington?  Too tall.  Epstein.  I don't have the hair for it.  I guess that leaves Horseshack or the old, grumpy principal.  I guess I'll go with horseshack.  He seemed rather 'simple' except for the constant if not epileptic fits of, "Ooo, Oooooo, Ooooo, Ooooooooo!!!"  I can see me doing that.  Heck, I think I have done that.  Don't ask me where the Sweat Hog reference came from.  I didn't even really like that show that much, but my sister did.  If she liked it, I watched it just to spend time with her.  It just seemed to fit and has been on my mind most of the night.  I wonder if Forrest will get a bus?  The BBQ School Bus.  Probably not.  But that would be AWESOME!!!!!  At least in Jeff-land.  It's a very special place.  So, if yall will excuse me, I have to make sure I have a fresh bottle of Elmer's laying around.  Y'all take care, and Riley says, "Hello and please save me."  Here is the information on the class:  Forrest Fine Foods, LLC Competition BBQ Class March 29-30, 2014 in Cottondale, FL. The class will be held near Cottondale FL and will begin with a meet and greet supper on Friday night. The class will be presented in contest format, with the exception of a Friday/Saturday structure it will be done Saturday/Sunday. FBA and KCBS will be discussed. This is a full disclosure class that includes everything from meat selection to box building for turn-in. Dinner and supper will be provided on Saturday and breakfast and dinner on Sunday, as well as snacks. The cost of the class is $400 per person. Class size is limited so reserve you spot quick. Contact Forrest Dilmore at 850-209-7777 or by email at fffbbq@yahoo.com for an application.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Happy New Year to All.....Mostly

So I'm sitting here at my computer while the outside ambient temperature hovers somewhere around 25 and -143.  I'm used to the cold having served in the Air Force in Montana as well as having lived in Illinois, NE Tennessee, Ohio, and Kansas so the fact the temp is below freezing isn't a big deal to me.  To my fellow Alabamians and Floridians, it is a bit of a different story.  We have ice on the roof and my on truck which for people living in Florida is like the fine folks in Illinois getting a visit from Hurricane Eloise.  As I have said time and time again, I am able to manage all of this adversity because I have the strength of 10 third graders.....the big ones, not those little, whiny ones.  Since my last post, we competed in the BBQ and Blues Festival in Perry, FL where we 'nos sugered' (we sucked).  While we didn't finish last, we didn't do as well as we had hoped.  I guess that goes for everyone who doesn't win.  After all, who goes to compete so they can say, "You know, that 27 out of 43 was GREAT!!!"  I'm sure there are those that do, I'm just not one of them.  With that in mind as it is a new year, many set out making great new year's resolutions.  While I make it a physical point of effort to avoid making any new year's resolutions at any and all costs, I was able to compile a few that seemed appropriate to my current status.  Feel free to make your own or borrow as you deem fit.  #1 Do not spend any time what so ever watching, reading, or listening to anything to do with the Kardasians, Lindsay Lohan (or any member of her family), the Hiltons, Snooki or JWoww, or the Kardasians (said twice because they seem to be everywhere and are twice as annoying as any other family on t.v.  I mean really, who gives a rip).  #2  To poke anyone in the eye bringing up the Kardasians, the Hiltons, Snooki or JWoww, or the Lohans.  #3 Teach my dog to growl at the t.v. anytime the president or any other muppet from congress is on rambling on about some deluded world in which they live.  #4  Learn to yodel in Hungarian.  #5  Teach my wife to shoot without her having a 'tragic accident on the range' involving myself, 911, a tourniquet, and the phrase, "Wow, if he lives, that's gonna leave a big ol' scar."  #6 Actually finish in the top 10 just once in any BBQ competition this season.  #7  Repeat #6 as often as possible.  #8  Start a new adventure.  #9  Get my sauce tested so I can market it and become independently wealthy an socially acceptable.  #10  Win $76,334,978.89 in the Florida Lottery to accomplish the same as the previous.  As you can see, my resolutions are not so much resolutions as they are 'if I can get around to them'-isms.  This past year has brought many exciting changes.  We got Shangri-La and have used it at competitions as well as to go camping which was nice....except for the stomach bug that came afterwords.  We did six competitions and did pretty well at one of them (Thank you Elba).  Still have my family, friends, and job that I started the year with, and I got to spend a lot of time with those that matter to me the most.  For the most part, my family is healthy, and for that I am truly thankful.  I have also had the great opportunity to get to know some great people on the BBQ trail.  Forrest Dilmore, Mr. Cook, Mr. Lovett of Poolside BBQ, Mr. Bentley of B & L BBQ, and many others.  I even got to meet Audrey Evans in Perry.  Nice lady and I enjoy her BBQ periodical.  Team Grandpa's Pride has learned a lot over this past year.  I'm hopeful we can take last year's experiences and parlay them into some success this season.  The phrase, "I am blessed" seems to be as overused and the phrase "I love this or that", but I can honestly say that I do feel that I am one of the most blessed not because of my self or my accomplishments but by the people God has seen to put in my life.  From my loving and ultra-supportive wife to the rest of my family and friends, no man could ever ask for more....well he could but that would be rude.  For all the blessing, I am humbled.  So in closing, I hope everyone takes a minute to think about the experiences of the past year.  Don't stay stuck living in the past but instead use it to see the way to their future.  Now that belongs on a card you buy at Hallmark.  Happy New Year y'all.  Riley says hello and 'shut the dang door.  It's cold out there.'