Author Archive

pyrokinesis (redemption edition)

I’m happy to say, following my July 4th “fireworks”, that I’ve honed my burger grilling skills somewhat. Thanks to Tim for the helpful tips, I followed his advice and made my burgers “thinner than you would think necessary” and added a splash of Gate’s BBQ sauce to “help them hold together”. Of course my traditional spice package included Lawry’s, paprika, and red pepper flakes.

The key to the whole process I found was to keep the burners on as low as they go and to embrace the flames. Grease fire? Bring it on! You won’t terrify me no longer.

So while the end result of the 4th of July was a little to much carbon, the 8th of July were quite likely the most fantastic burgers I have created in quite a long while.

pyrokinetical fiasco

It wouldn’t be the 4th of July without a little bit of fireworks, so in true American fashion Steph and I had Justin and Hannah over for a little pre-evening-celebration hamburger cookout. Steph’s brother, Theo and Joey, are staying with us over the next couple weeks, so we figured we’d go ahead and grill a bunch of hamburgers that they could eat while we’re at work the next couple of days.

So we get the big tub of meat – 4lbs of ground beef. And I’m feeling good that this is going to be a great grilling day… I’ve got my Lawrys, I’ve got my parika, I’ve got my red pepper flakes, and I start making some of the most beautiful hamburger patties I’ve ever seen. Got about 14 of them ready to go, fire up the grill, let it warm up for a bit, and then start just stacking on the most wonderful array of meat ever to lay across a 4th of July grill.

Things are going well. I step inside for a bit to talk and…..

* disaster strikes *

Something happened in the 30 seconds I was in the kitchen, because when I looked out the back porch window moments later, my entire grill was engulfed in smoke. The porch area is filling up quickly with toxic fumes, so I run outside, grab the lid of the grill and throw it open. Flames are spewing forth like a flamethrower. Helplessly I grab my BBQ utensils and start shoving meat around. Smoke has clouded up the porch door now – my family and friends are peering out in stark horror. Even the cat is unsettled. I truly don’t know what I’m doing at this point – something has gone terribly wrong. I do the only thing I can think of and start turning off burners. This doesn’t help. The entire inside of the grill is on fire and every time I touch meat more grease drips off and sets off a new wave of smoke, flames, and chaos. I pull Justin outside with me… not because he can necessarily help, but because I want to be in this together with someone, and when the girls start ridiculing me later and I need him on my side.

I start moving burgers around, stacking them on top of the other, sacrificing the bottom burgers to the raging inferno to give the other burgers a chance. There are no grill burners on now – I’ve got a perpetual conflagration of grease that is going to burn these things to a crisp. Somehow I finally get to the point where I am managing mass chaos and get a system going where I am cycling all the burgers through a warm area of the grill to cook while the rest of the fire burns down. Before each one goes through I have to use the sharp edge of my spatula to chip off charred cow in an attempt to get a decently even cooking experience.

Drama I tell you, drama.

The majority of the burgers turned out fine, save two that ended up looking like charcoal lumps that I literally had to pry away from the grill. Happy 4th of July.


I’ve officially crossed the line. I’m an internet nerd. Not only do I casually observe the happenings on the marvelous interwebs, I am now one who actually contributes to this massive chaotic giant of tubes, webs, and bits and bats.

I’m speaking of Wikipedia, my favorite website. I love it for it’s random wealth of information on anything from tube socks to the spiritual culture of the Siberian Yupiks. I’ll spend hours just cruising away, jumping from one topic to the next, in this random and trivial form of pseudo-education. So fascinating.

I’ve been obsessed with Wikipedia for a couple years now, but as I said, I’ve now officially crossed the line. I’m now a Wikipedia Editor, complete with personal profile (boring) and more importantly, my first article contribution. My first edit is kind of boring, but was the only thing I could think of off the top of my head that I had specific knowledge about that no one else had already written on.

So there ya go. A new hobby to fit into my already busy life… and why the heck not.

worn and torn

Stephanie and I went to an artisan festival on Sunday – hundreds of painters, potters, photographers, etc. The highlight for me was a photographer named Jack Stoddart. This guy is as old school as they come. Serious about his art and his method. Jack’s from the Plateau region of Tennessee, east of Nashville, about halfway to Knoxville. Together he and his wife moved to the area about 35 years ago with the intention of creating a “black and white silver gelatin historical documentation” of the area. The silver gelatin process, which I don’t fully understand yet, is a dying art… so much so that the last remaining manufacturer who provided the developing paper needed to reproduce the images recently went out of business, effectively putting Jack out of business. But I won’t pretend to speak with authority on things I know nothing about….

Jack’s pictures speak for themselves. His vintage method of capturing and re-producing life is striking, and as a result of this developing process you are left with an image that reminds you of the worn oval pictures of your great-great-great-grandparents, hanging on your relatives hallway walls. The silver-gelatin and washing process leaves the picture with this aged and rugged feeling, as though you can feel years through the picture itself, yet the photograph jumps out at you with such a vibrancy and life that it just captivates your attention.

Recently Jack has been honored for his work by being accepted into several museums, not the least of which is the Museum Of American History at the Smithsonian. If you have an appreciation for film photography, check out Jack’s online gallery. The resolution online isn’t the best and doesn’t do the film justice, but you may get the general impression:

Online Gallery:

so much to do, so little time

So I’m starting something new… at Jon’s prompting, I’ve begun my list of “101 Things To Do in 1001 Days”. You can check out the list as it takes shape at

bear grylls today; a short bed tonight

Was happy to see Bear Grylls featured on the Today show this morning – got to catch a glimpse of the new season and him crossing an Icelandic river at 40 degrees below 0 or something ridiculous like that. They should have had Matt Lauer interview him though… should not have prissy Meredith conversing with Bear… “oh my gosh, is that a worm you’re eating!?!? eww!!!!”

So Steph and I were laying in bed last night (don’t worry, this is a graphic as it gets), and she says to me, “Of all the blogs and myspace pages out there, I can’t believe no one has ranted about this yet… why are beds so short!?” And she has brought up a fine point. 1) We’re poor, so we have a full size bed; 2) I’m tall and my feet hang off the end of it; 3) No one has ranted about this before on a blog, so I shall today.

So what the crap? What is it with full size beds and them being so short? It’s not just a tall person problem – Steph doesn’t like having her head scrunched up against the top of the bed, so she sleeps down a ways as well, and her feet dangle too. I think they’re making a bad assumption if they think that tall people and non-head-scrunchers are the only ones that sleep in queen and king size beds. Respect the financially burdened and monetarily squeezed!! We need a bed just like the rest of America, and if we are to be productive in life and earn the money we need to make our eventual bed upgrade, we need to have a good night’s rest!! We cannot go through our nights with our feet dangling off the end of the bed while every day the trials of the world dangle our very lives before us!! This is a call to rise up! This is a call to support those who are forced to sleep diagonally each night while their wive’s are pushed closer and closer to that dangerous edge! This is a call to wake up for the sleep we all deserve!!!

Call your senator and voice your support for the “Longer Beds For Taller People (and shorter people who want longer beds too)” bill being brought before Congress this week.

Today you should listen to:
Travis “Under The Moonlight

rearranging the hierarchy

I’ve been holding off on doing this for some time because, if I were to blog about it, I know it would earn immediate honorary entry into Uncle Tim’s “Cats Are Stupid” blog sub-section. I like my cat – I wish him no disrespect. Oh well…

So Steph and I were hanging some pictures the other day… and of course, hauled out the old laser level to provide assistance. Gotta love the laser level – bright red beam shooting out across the wall. At the very least, if you don’t get the level setting correct, your pictures will all be hanging in a straight diagonal line going up towards the ceiling.

Linus (the cat) of course caught sight of the laser. We’re talking immediate change in life priorities here. There was a time when his ultimate goal was to escape through the front door during the brief few moments that it is open after we come home from work and take off beyond the bushes that inevitably block his path. However, he now intends to capture and hold captive the mysterious red dot which, apparently, lives in cracks in the floor and underneath appliances. This, he surmises, will give him new status in the social ranking and order of the house – maintaining a slave will obviously make him eligible for certain voting rights in the failed socio-political environment he is now an unwilling member of.

Anyways, so we’ve got the laser level out, we’re playing with Linus. Doing all those things you do when you’ve got a cat and a laser. He’s utterly bewildered of course.

My favorite part of the evening: I’m in the kitchen and I’ve got him spinning around in a tight circle, around and around, chasing this thing – 30 or 40 times around. Deliberately making him dizzy. Then I point the laser off into the living room and he attempts to go chasing after it, after which he immediately crashes into the dishwasher because he’s so tipsy. This makes me laugh (loudly) and as a reaction I slap my hand on the counter… this scares him even more, and he takes off across the living room in fear, tail puffy, and dizzy… and runs directly into the TV.

Today you should listen to:
The Hold Steady “Stuck Between Stations”

statutory trivia

So I was talking to a friend of mine from Louisiana a while back who revealed some interesting state trivia to me… If you’re from any of the states mentioned below and did in fact know this already… just let me have my fun:

If you study carefully the map provided to the right you will find a kind baker who has prepared a tasty treat for our national consumption. The state of Iowa provides the baker’s head, with his nose at the far right side. His body is provided by Missouri and Arkansas, his boots by Louisiana, and his baker’s cap by Minnesota. He holds in his hands a pie – the tin which is Tennessee and the overflow of scrumptious filling which is Kentucky

Kinda lame, I know… I didn’t want to have to require thinking today.

Today you should listen to:
Aqualung “Garden Of Love”
* This is, in general, a fantastic album by the way…

driving me insane

Thank you Tim for your recent comment on my last post. You know I can’t do another post until you comment… appreciate that.

So we’re doing it again, beginning tonight… the mad crazy drive home to Minnesota to take part in a family event all of which will total more hours on the road than we actually spend with our family.

My brother’s graduating. We’re going home. It was a last minute decision. I don’t want to make the drive, but it will be good to be there with him… unconcious as we may be tomorrow morning at 9:30AM.

Insanity coupled with foolishness, compounded by caffiene.

Today you should listen to:
Arcade Fire “Keep The Car Running

colorado in seven easy steps

A week after returning from the fantastic state of Colorado, it’s time for a quick blog update. There’s no way to sum up even a short trip to Colorado concisely and effectively… here are some highlights:

It’s impossible to quickly find a place to eat in Denver from the interstate, especially if you’re starving. It took us 30 minutes, but we happened upon this little joint called Rico’s Pizzeria… little hole-in-the-wall shop, family owned by Italians, seating for 12, best calzone I’ve ever eaten. I don’t even know how we got there. But I’m going back next time I’m in the area.

If you intend to spend any time in the mountains, spend the extra dollars and get the upgrade to a Jeep (or similar 4WD vehicle). Originally we planned on getting a mid-size car, but then they ran out of mid-size cars and were about to stick us with a minivan… (I don’t know, don’t ask). We weren’t about to be caught dead in a minivan. Get the Jeep, it was an amazingly wise choice.

We love the mountains, so immediately upon arriving (and consuming a calzone), we headed straight into the mountains. Random advice nugget #2 – get the backroads atlas, and use it diligently. Never take the interstates up into the mountains, because that is for boring old people and families in minivans. If you’ve done like I’ve recommended and gotten the Jeep it will be no problem. We went up Jarre Canyon Road, west out of Denver into the front range of mountains between Colorado Springs and Denver. It was snowing. It was exciting. Minivans had to turn back.

Wives appreciate sentimental things, so we stayed in the mountain lodge where we spent our honeymoon. It was very nice, and made us think, “wow, we should run a lodge up in the mountains someday”. Wives also appreciate bathrooms with big huge whirlpool bathtubs.

When looking for something to do, grab your trusty backroad atlas, randomly pick a spot somewhere off the beaten path, and try to find it. You’ll need the 4WD you rented.

Pikes Peak… I’m not very happy with you Pikes Peak. I understand that it snowed 8 inches on top of your mountain and that for safety reasons you had to close down your road for those who unwisely chose to visit you from the comfort of their suburban housewife approved minivans. But come on – we have a Jeep!! Sadness. We went halfway up but were forced by rangers with guns to turn around.

The reason we went to Colorado in the first place was because we went to Sara’s wedding. It was a very nice wedding Sara – thank you for inviting us! We’re very happy for you.

Colorado weekend a success. Points to remember: Rent a Jeep. Buy a road atlas. Stop at Rico’s Pizzeria.