Until further notice my site is down due to a failure of the camera to take a suitable photo of me. I have contacted the IT Department here and their response was less than acceptable. They have a meeting scheduled all week and will not be able to address any issues until next week at the earliest.
It seems there is a very real lack of motivation by the members on my staff. I am hopeful they get a pedicure in between meetings, but I make no promises. They were able to take a picture of the Strawberry Moon. According to the members of the Medical Department, sent me a text telling me about it.
Until next time, keep on rockin.
A couple of long days are in the books now. I had my semi-annual training for work and while there is nothing new under the sun, it is amazing what the guys in the school house can come up with to make you think and occasionally look bad when all they do is the simulator but I get to the sim once every six months. What is fun is when they fly a real airplane and they are out of their element. All is well and here is part two of what we started last week. To bring you back up to speed in case you missed last week, I choose to celebrate Memorial Day slightly differently than most. I like to do the things that those who earned the right to have their holiday earned cannot do. I like to spend that day/weekend with family and friends. I also like to grill and burn some meat.
Last year, I took my grilling experience and added smoke specifically a dedicated smoker. I wasn’t willing (too cheap) to pay 1500.00 dollars for a brand name Little Green Egg or a Primo Brand smoker. I went to the local Home Depot and dropped 325.00 on their cheap version called an Akorn made by King Griller. I know pilots have rich history of having the highest priced toys, but they also have a tradition of being cheap. The old saying is the best way to make a copper wire is to place a penny between two pilots. Anyway I digress, the point of this article is to tell you everything I have learned about smoking meat so that you can too become a grill master. But unlike the guys on television and at the local restaurant, I am not going to play secret squirt games and if I know it then you will know it by the end of this article. I will be writing some things that go against conventional wisdom and I will probably make someone mad. Here is what I think, it is your meat, your smoker, your taste buds and your stomach. Cook it how you like. If some local, backyard purist doesn’t like it; they don’t get seconds.
Before I work with the meat, I start the fire. You can get the meat ready first if you want but I like to go straight out and get the meat cooking rather than wait the ten to twenty minutes for the fire to be ready. This is IMPORTANT: use lump coal that is NOT coated with lighter fluid. That will change the taste of the meat. I put a large chunk of hickory wood on the fire at this point. You only need smoke for the first two hours. Afterwards, no wood just coal. Also I do not soak the wood because I use larger portions. One of the resources I trust for smoking says that wet wood doesn’t burn because all you are doing is burning water until it dries out. Then the wood burns. That makes sense to me but other people swear the Earth will stop rotating if you don’t soak the wood.
I am going to focus on smoking pork ribs and shoulders. But I learned a valuable lesion on Saturday, don’t read the label on the package, look at the meat and see what you got to work with. If it says pork shoulder but looks like a ham you can be reasonably certain that it is a ham. But I am getting ahead of myself. If you are working with frozen meat, depending on the size start unthawing it a day or two in advance. The first thing to do with the meat is to remove the packaging, identify if it is what you expect it to be, wash it off, dry off the moisture, coat it with oil (I prefer olive oil but I think any oil will work), and put some type of rub on the outside. You can also inject it with juice, I like apple juice if I am going to do this. My big hint in this phase is to get medical gloves so that you don’t have to wash your hands every time you reach a new step. Also I like to cover the counter top with newspaper to help with the clean-up.
It is very important to adjust the openings so that you don’t get the fire too hot or too cold. I really try to get the temperature to hover around 250 degrees but most of the time I am at 300 and at least once in a eight hour cook, my fire is going to go out. If I had a higher quality smoker this might be easier but now that I know what to expect and how to adjust the mixture. I like my cheap smoker. When your fire goes out, I have found the best way to restart it is to use the leaf blower and direct some extra air into the bottom of the smoker. Be careful because you don’t want to blow ashes all over your meat. And once the fire gets going with the high intensity air, it will burn hot and fast. Just enough is perfect, a little too much is like throwing lighter fluid on the fire.
Make sure you do not put the meat directly above the fire. Always, always, always use indirect heat which means put the meat as far away as possible from the flame. If I have a large cut of meat, I will put in the heat diverter in the center of the grill. All it does is prevent the flame from touching the meat. Cooked is juicy, burned is extremely dry to the point of crispy.
This is the most important step. Check your temperature at least once every thirty minutes to start and shorting that time span as the cook time draws to a close. Also add coal after the first two-hour mark and then every hour whether you think it needs it or not. This will keep your fire burning. The rest of the time is yours. Find a good book to read, listen to some music, swim in the pool, watch the game or whatever you want. But remember to check your fire every thirty minutes. Set your alarm, watch or sun dial to remind you to check your fire. You will be glad you did.
So now we are five to six hours into the cook. You will have your digital thermometer in the meat and you turn it on for the first time. You should see about 160 degrees if you have been cooking at 300 degrees and it weighs about 8-10 pounds. I always check the meat temperature when I check the smoker temperature because I am a chicken. You will find that the temperature of the meat will stall at about 165 degrees and it will take an hour or two to get the meat above that temperature. I don’t understand the physics of it but essentially the moisture of the meat is evaporating from the skin of the meat so that the heat is released causing a longer cook time. I am told the Texas Crutch technique was invented in Texas and that is the reason why it isn’t called the West Virginia Crutch. Anyway, simply wrap the meat in aluminum foil. This will allow the skin to heat up and prevent the internal temperature from stalling. I will swear by the Texas Crutch as long as I am smoking meat but you can call it what you want.
Now is the time I start thinking about Barb-Que sauces. There are about a million and one recipes but I am too lazy to re-invent the wheel. Also, every region of the world (except the Middle East) has its own style of barb-Que sauce. If you want to have fun go into a Kansas City Barb-Que joint and ask for Memphis style sauce. Or go to Georgia and demand mesquite wood smoke flavor or go to Carolina and request a sweet sauce. About all those places have in common is sweet tea otherwise you are about to start a riot. Being a Memphian, I like a sweet, sugar based sauce. My go to base sauce is Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce because it tastes good to me and it is cheap. All of the following sauce combinations have Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce as the base. But use whatever you like.
According to my sources, the perfect meat internal temperature is 202. Why you might ask and I have no answer but my favorite guy calls himself Meathead so I am inclined to trust his methodology. Go see his site at http://amazingribs.com
I like to put the meat in a crockpot and then bring it inside. I feel that I can carry it easier and cut it better in the pot. I use meat tongs or a large fork and a sharp knife to shred the meat. Whatever you do just remember that you are working against time because the meat is hot and cooling off and your friends are probably hungry because you told them eat at four and it took you an extra two hours to cook.
So that is it. I highly encourage anyone who thinks they want to start smoke meat to not be afraid. It really isn’t as hard as the guys on the barb-que shows act. Practice, play around with the meats and the grill and don’t be afraid because the worst thing that will happen is you burn your meat and have to cook hot dogs.
Until next time, keep on rockin
I am feeling the post Memorial Day blues today. You know how it is, you get that extra day away from the grind of work and you jump headfirst into the hustle of a weekend crammed full of family events. I know what you may be thinking, (well probably not since most of the time I am not sure what I think) but someone may be wondering why I am so insistent in having a three-day weekend over packed with cookouts, birthday parties and other activities as opposed to doing something more traditional. I believe that Memorial Day is a time to remember those who were willing to paid the ultimate price and they willingly put their lives in jeopardy so that we might be able to fire up the grill and party.
I am not being flippant, I am being very serious when I say that I think the best way to honor those men and women is to be with family and friends. We may all know a family who lost a loved one wearing a uniform and for them, Memorial Day is just another day to remember their loss because every day to some extent is Memorial Day. They don’t get to spend a silent moment and then going about their lives as if nothing happened. They go about their daily routine with an empty place in their soul because of a little thing called service to the nation. I think about families like Big Joe out in AZ whose step son served in the Marines. I think of a not so little girl whose dad died in a plane crash. I think of Padre Steve whose former Commander took his own life after the war was over for him. Dying on a battlefield or dying in or out of the uniform is the same thing to me.
If I go to a cemetery and walk around for a few minutes, what have I really accomplished other than to get a walk in? To me that is a hallow action full of honor and respect, and I am glad that there are people who chose to remember their lives in that manner. But it doesn’t fit with the narrative of how I chose to remember. If I had died over there or over here, I wouldn’t want some guy I didn’t know to walk past my grave and thank the Lord that it was me and not him. I would want that guy to live his life fully, to spend a weekend with his families and friends, enjoying life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is tough and stressful to host three parties in three days. It is tough to fire up the grill and make sure that the meat is cooked to perfection. It is tough to make sure there are plenty of cold drinks in the cooler. It is tough after a long day over the grill to clean the house and do it again the next day. And then do it again the next day. But that is how my family chose to honor those who lost their lives. When I cut into that nearly perfect pork rib, I almost cried because that is how I chose to honor the fallen on Memorial Day.
It would be easy to end this article here but that only leaves you with the answer of why I celebrate like I do. Everyone wants to know why but no one wants to teach you how. That is because if you know how then it takes the power of knowledge away from one and gives it to the many. I don’t want to tell you why I am on the path to grill master status. I want you to be a grill master too. I’m not at grill master status yet, but without sounding braggadocios. I am getting pretty good even when I am still making mistakes on every cook.
Last summer I bought a Kamado smoker called an Akorn. Since I am cheap and even more importantly I couldn’t justify spending 1500.00 dollars on a smoker to my wife I went to Home Depot and bought the knockoff smoker. I have never eaten anything off an Egg or Primo Kamado smoker but there is no way it tastes that much better than what I can produce on my smoker. So if you want to be a master griller like me, go to Home Depot and drop 350.00 on a Char Griller AKorn Smoker. It works like magic and with a little training, it will make you look good.
If you are in the market for a gas grill, do yourself a favor and get one that is infrared heating style. Basically the fire heats up metal and that is what cooks the meat. Since the flame doesn’t actually touch the meat, it is almost impossible to burn the meat. Again, five years ago I went to Home Depot and bought a 250.00 dollar Char Broil gas grill with the infrared technology. It is so easy to cook with; it is almost embarrassing. Set the temperature, throw the meat on, flip it a couple of times and it is ready to eat. But when your guests are eating the meat you just cooked and they are shocked when their pork chop is tender, juicy and well done they will rave about how good you are. You can take the compliments and smile because you know it is all because you got the right grill.
I can tell already that this article is going to go long, so we are going to make it a two-day article. Your homework should you choose to accept it, will be to go out and get a smoker. Next week we are going to look at what I created over the weekend, with pictures. I am going to take you behind the curtain, we are going to explore everything from starting the fire to making your own “homemade” bar-b-cue sauces. I am going to show you what I did right and where I failed. I am going to tell you how to restart your fire and how to get that amazing smoke ring on your meats. This weekend I did pork but we will talk beef and chicken too. I cant think of a better way to honor the men and women who serve than by sharing with you the secrets of being a “Master Griller” so that you can live your life in pursuit of happiness and the perfect rib. Maybe together we can honor all the families who gave a son or daughter on the altar of freedom with something to smile about.
Until next time, keep on rockin.
I have been thinking a lot about the rest of the year and how I would like it to shake out. Of course, before I state my plan I should recognize that none of us can really see 5 minutes into the future. So as I give you an update on what you can expect moving forward, I will remain rigidly flexible.
Before we look forward, I think we should look backwards a few months. One of the bigger events of my development as a writer is that I actually typed “The End” on book number one. It came in at about 86,000 words and is only eight years in development. About two years ago, I thought I had a finished product but I was wrong. Way wrong, so I cut the first thirty thousand words, and cut the last twenty thousand words from the ending. Completely rewrote the beginning and ending while I kept the middle fifteen thousand words. Then to flesh it out, I went back in and added another twenty thousand words to the total product. That is almost like starting completely over with the same idea.
I sent it out to the first three beta readers over the weekend so I am patiently waiting on their thoughts and I am moving forward with book number two which is actually the second half of the first book that I re-wrote. Hope you’re not confused yet, because I certainly am.
I will be random in my posts this summer. We have a lot going on this summer with normal family vacation plans, a house that we are trying to sale and if we do then we have to find a new house and actually move. Plus some other things going on with the family, all good trust me which will probably combine to take extra time away from this site. One topic I will be tackling is Bar-B-Que to include some recipes and some of the tricks I have learned from cooking BBQ over the past two years.
Also during the spring months, I had a stronger than normal bout with anxiety. For all our new friends and readers, I am not a normally nervous or anxious person. I like to think of myself as a calm, steady person who is consistently predictable in my life. But ever since I deployed to Iraq in 2003, I have found that I am just unsettled during the springtime. It seems to creep up on me in March and peaks in April and by the end of May, it seems to have worked its way out of the system. Full disclosure, my issues are very mild and I would not classify my mood swings as harmful, dangerous, or anything that requires special treatment. But it gives me an understanding and compassion for the men and women that suffer from a full blown case of PTSD.
I think that part of my increased anxiety this year relates to the fact that I haven’t finished writing about the deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. I have another ten-month period that I need to document but haven’t because the last two rotations were the most stressful and the person I was during that time was the least honorable me. I have been finding excuses to write about that Rob, but I need to get those stories out so I can move on. So you can look for those stories sometime in the fall. It will be a series that lasts a couple of months so there are so many stories both good and bad that I would like to relate to you in general and specifically for my kids who should get to know who their Dad was before they were alive.
Around Christmas, I am sure we will have plenty to discuss with a new President about to take office and of course that is the busy time of the season for me at work, so I will try really hard to finish the year strong by getting book number one finished and complete. At the beginning of 2017, I am going to focus hard on looking for a book agent and I want to start shopping the book. In February, I am scheduled for training with my work and I will be scarce for a couple of months.
Which brings us to late spring 2017, my goal is to have an agent who is actively shopping book number one and to have a completed draft of book number two out to beta readers and to start working on book number three. I know it sounds like a lot but right now all I see is time slipping past me. Two years ago, I was in training for my work and I was struggling to learn a new airplane. It was the only time in my aviation career that I had serious reservations about my ability to learn a new airplane. It was really difficult for me because of a lot of reasons but I made myself a secret promise. That promise was the five years from then, I would have real options about continuing my current career or starting a new career as a real live, highly paid author.
I know the odds are stacked against me, I know there are better writers out there and I know that in order to replace my current income I have going to have to be big time. But in order it be big time, you have to dream big time. And of course, all these dreams haven’t been squashed by the four beta readers so I still have a chance to be somebody.
Until next time, keep on rockin.
Hanging out in Indiana tonight watching reruns of the cable network news election results. Today, yesterday if you slept, was the primary for my home plate of West Virginia. Being a good citizen and wanting to be as far away as possible from the polling sites on election day, I voted last week. After school on Thursday, my wife and I took the kids to the court house to cast our ballets. Thinking about it in retrospect, I don’t think I have voted on an election day in over twenty years and I couldn’t tell you where my local polling location is at. I guess it would be an understatement to say that I love early voting.
My wife is a Republican and I am a Democrat. In all honesty, I am probably more DINO (Democrat In Name Only) than card carrying, true believer. In 2003, spending most of the year hanging out in Iraq, my good friend Paul summarized the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Paul explained it like this. “A Democrat wants to mess up our country while a Republican wants to mess up someone else’s country.” Looking back at American history, I really have a difficult time disproving his theory. In September 2003, I had to get a new driver’s license because my wife had sold her house and moved into my house. Along with the new license, I changed my political party to Democrat because I was tired of messing up other people’s countries.
Of course over the years being a Democrat has given me so many opportunities to mess with people because they just expect that I should be a good card carrying member of the Republican party. It is really fun to get the sideways look when I tell people that I am a Democrat. Even better is the awkward silence and confused look that comes from my confession. Of course the worse part of being a Democrat is when those people try to convert me into being what they expect me to be. Occasionally, I come across someone who really wants to engage in a rational discourse on the merits of the political parties and even better when the person I am talking too really doesn’t care who I vote for. They are the best and they are rare.
I wouldn’t describe myself as a political junkie but I would say that I am well informed of where the candidates stand on the respective issues. And a couple of thoughts have crept into my mind about this political season and the candidates’ motivations for becoming President. I would like to talk about Bernie Sanders first. If he were taken in a vacuum, I think he is an old school throwback to the days of Ben Franklin and Alexander Hamilton. He is to be exactly what we all want in a candidate; I really think he is honest when he speaks about his political views. I really think that he is a kind hearted man and he tried to walk the talk. On the other side of the coin, when he says that he is a Socialist he really means that he ascribes to the Socialist agenda. I voted for him in spite of the fact that I believe that he cannot win the general election and in spite of the fact that I find that I agree with very little that he says. But in the world of politics, honesty, humanity, and decency mean more to me than lower taxes or gun control.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about Hillary Clinton and I do believe that she will beat Sen. Sanders’ campaign in a few weeks. But I also think that she is unelectable in the general election. I have to believe that the Democrat leadership is coming around to the idea that she cannot win. They are in a tough place because without the super-delegates, she would have a difficult time gaining the nomination. I think that this e-mail controversy is real and that by the time the Democratic Convention, it will be the millstone that sinks her candidacy. In politics, perception is everything and it will be apparent that her polling numbers will be falling behind Donald Trump’s.
Speaking of those missing e-mails of Hillary. How embarrassing will it be for the United States when we can’t retrieve them from the servers, but the Russians or Chinese hand over about 20,000 emails they hacked off her supposedly secured private server. I promise you that they would love to embarrass the United States. I don’t think there is any way that President Obama will allow his last days as American President to be embarrassed by an October surprise by the Russians just before the election. There is no way he will jeopardize his legacy by trusting the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans, the Iranians, the Mexicans or the Saudis to not leak their hacked information. The United States has a lot of enemies in the world and President Obama personally has make so many nations upset that someone will try to embarrass his during his final days in office. Therefore, I predict that the Democratic Convention will be in chaos for the first three days and on the fourth day, Vice President Joe Biden will be drafted to become the party’s candidate. He will select Bernie as his Vice President and together they will be the chosen ones to defeat the “dark side” of the Republicans.
I have been wondering why Donald Trump wants to be President. He doesn’t need the money and he doesn’t need the fame. He doesn’t need the headache and he doesn’t need hassle. Why would he need to be President? That question has been rattling around in my head for a while until the other night I realized what he actually gains. It is the one thing that money can’t buy and no matter what else he accomplishes in this life: he can’t get unless he is President. That one thing is a Presidential Library. The man has hotels, buildings, golf courses, resorts, casinos, and real estate all over the world. He started a university and has a fleet of jets, helicopters, cars and yachts. The only difference between Air Force One and Trump One is that there isn’t a gold faucet on Air Force One. I think he is in this because the only way to have his name live on until the end of time is to have a Presidential Library. I have a good friend who makes it his mission in life to visit every Presidential Library. Morgan is a true blue Democrat but he didn’t blink an eye when he took his family to visit the Bush Presidential Library. It is a big deal to have a Presidential Library and it is the one thing that money can’t buy.
Until next time, keep on rockin.
I know it has been a long time since I put anything out for your consumption. Just want to let you all know that everything is right as rain on my side of the internet, just been busier than a one legged man in a butt kicking contest. Today I would like to share a short story, correlate it to something I did since the last time we spoke and to point out something that might be really important to all of us.
When I went to pilot training in 1995, I made a promise to myself that I would be all in, 100 percent. I would not take all the shortcuts that I had during my life up to that point. I would be diligent in my studies and focus entirely on the task at hand. I would not waste my opportunity to live my dream. To that end, I gave pilot training my full attention from Sunday afternoon until the completion of the day on Friday. The weekend belonged to me and I used them to release all the pressure that built up during the week. During the week, I focused on the flying, the academics and devoted myself to learning everything there was to learn about being an Air Force pilot.
At the end of the first phase, we got our flight commander rankings. When I was called into the commander’s office, I felt really good about my class rank. It didn’t matter how I finished because I was slotted to go to the Air National Guard in West Virginia to fly C-130s so technically all I had to do was finish. But I really wanted to finish high enough to be fighter qualified. It was a pride thing.
The commander started off with the daily flying scores, I was 5th in my class of 39. I sat a little higher in my seat. On the check rides, I was 15th, on the weekly quizzes I was around 20th. He got to academic scores and he read off my average. It was 94.9%. I could hardly contain my pride because I had never done that good academically in my life. At the time, I had both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s Degree. But I had never done anything as difficult academically as Undergraduate Pilot Training. It really kicked my butt and I was so proud of myself for doing so well. My commander burst my bubble just as quickly as he inflated it. I finished 39th out of 39th. I had to ask him to clarify because I wasn’t sure if I heard him right. He repeated it differently for me. I was dead last in the class.
I walked out confused and a little hurt because my very best was good enough to be last academically. In the years since, I kind of take a little pride in the fact that I missed only about 30 questions and I walked out of a highly challenging program with a 94.9% average. But sometimes I have to remind myself that my very best is only good enough to be last when I am surrounded by really smart people.
Case in point, I play in a fantasy baseball league with some really smart guys that breath and live sports. The guys that don’t work in the sports world are lawyers or doctors and the other few guys are highly successful in their world. Last year, I had a great draft and managed to finish just out of the money in 4th place. I went into this year’s draft expecting to put together a team that could win the league. Overconfidence is my sin, and even though I was more prepared than last year. Even though I had done the work and knew all about every potential sleeper middle infielder to draft in the 23rd round; I had a horrible draft. A few hours after the draft, I looked at my team and I thought that maybe I could finish in the top 6 but I didn’t have the players to win the league. Well, it is worse than I thought. A month into the season and I am solidly in last place. The other 11 teams are running away from my faster than I could have ever imagined. Last place sucks and it looks like there is nothing to turn it around until football starts in August. It is going to be a long summer.
Now onto important things. Like I said earlier, I am not the sharpest tool in the shed and my very best really isn’t that good when compared to real live smart people. But there is something going on in the political world that isn’t being reported at all. In case you missed it, the US Congress has been considering releasing 28 pages of classified document that provide some new to the public information on the role of the Saudi Arabian Government in the 9-11 attacks.
The Saudi government threw out a little statement about pulling out of the bond market as a little threat to stall the information from being published.
Finally, we see that a bi-partisan group of US Senators and Congressmen are working to keep the 28-page document classified.
Anytime I see bi-partisan group of politicians working together, it makes me nervous. There is more going on behind the curtain than we can imagine. This report came out today that the administration is considering releasing some of the 9-11 report. I am not going to hold my breath for the real truth.
I have a good friend who is Egyptian by birth. He has lived in the United States for the vast majority of his life and I would put his patriotism and love for the United States against anyone that I have ever met. Emir told me a few months ago about the danger the Saudis were to our lives. He went as far as to describe the Washington political players as puppets for the Saudi Royal family.
Like I said earlier, I am not very smart so I asked him to explain how someone rich guy from Saudi Arabia could buy a United States President or other high ranking public official. He said there are two really easy ways to buy anyone and another way to buy a President. The first way is they pay them for their outright for a speech. They invite them over to Riyadh and pay them a crazy amount of money to give a five-minute speech to a handful of people. Then they treat them like royalty at one of the palaces for a week or so before sending them back to Washington. It is all off record because the money is never directly given to the person but to a charity they control or deposited in an off shore account like the one in Panama that was recently exposed.
Another way to line the pockets of the political elite is to buy their books. Anytime a high ranking political figure releases a new book, who do you think reads it? According to the NY Times Bestseller list, almost all of us. I might know one person who buys books written by political leaders. Yes, Morgan I am talking about you but Big M only buys books written by Democrats. He doesn’t buy anything written by a Republican. Obviously someone buys their books too. That someone is the Saudi royal family. They buy literally hundreds of thousands of copies of books written by anyone who can be in a position to help them one day. It is a really cool scam by the way and perfectly legal. Politician Jackleg, goes to a book publisher and says they want to write a book. Book publisher gives them a huge advance and a ghost writer. Six months later the book is on the shelves at every brick and mortar store in the USA. On the day of the release, a Saudi Prince buys six million copies and has them shipped to Mecca. Everyone wins easy, peasy.
The last way that the Saudi’s help themselves is they donate a large sum of money to help build a Presidential Library. Maybe they buy the land and lease it back to the library for a dollar a year of maybe they donate all the concrete to be used in the project. Whatever and however it happens, it is just one more way to help those who help the Kingdom.
Watch this story because it will tell you more than you could ever dream about the real way politics works in the home of the free and it might help you decide who to vote for in the November elections.
Maybe things like this just happen. Or maybe my friend, Emir has a point. Either way, I got tired of looking of pictures of American Presidents so I stopped my research with President Eisenhower. But there is a clear record of American Presidents trying real hard to be friends with the Saudi King. By the way, I could only find a picture of Hillary Clinton with the Saudi King. Nothing for Trump, Sanders, Cruz or Kasich. I am willing to give Mrs. Clinton the benefit of the doubt that her photo was based on her role as the Secretary of State. I’m going to put my tin foil hat away now.
Until next time, keep on rockin.
Life has been moving at 1000 miles an hour in the last few weeks for my family. Normally, things go quickly but lately they have amped up into overdrive. Fortunately, nothing is wrong and everything is right. It is just a lot of right things. Adding to the daily activity has been the addition of middle school softball for daughter and kid pitch baseball for my son. With the requirements of my job, I am forced to miss so many things when I am in town I want to be involved in practice and games. Last week was the first week that I have had off since the new sports started. I told my daughter’s softball coach that I would be sitting in the stands watching practice and if she wanted any help with the girls, to please ask me.
She took me up on the offer and 30 minutes later, I was working with the outfielders. Showing them how to throw, catch and run. The next day, to my surprise the coach asked me to help out again. That day I was working with the infielders, the hitters, and again the outfield. My thing when working with the players, it to try to teach proper fundamentals including good arm/body position when throwing. When I played little league things were much different. The coach didn’t really instruct anything. He just rolled the ball out and we just did whatever we wanted. Years later, my mind and body had ingrained so many bad body positions and habits that I literally hurt all over after playing a softball game. My shoulder hurt, my muscles hurt and my elbow hurt. Last year, my son started playing baseball for the first time.
I really didn’t want him to follow my path to bad habits so I went to a local baseball instructor to teach him the right fundamentals right off the bat. After watching one lesson, I learned so many things about what I did wrong and how to play without abusing your arm. With that knowledge, I took my daughter to him this year and she got a lesson. Neither kid likes him because he is very precise in his instruction and he uses the word “No” just about every time they performed a throw for him. But I love him, I think he is worth his weight in gold and they don’t know it yet but they are going to have the pleasure of working with him for a long time.
Armed with the knowledge that he imparted on myself and my kids, I went out onto the softball field and taught like an expert. My mantra was to encourage the ladies to learn to throw the right way and they would never have a problem. It was all about safety, using your proper techniques and being smart with your body.
On Thursday, we practiced indoor because of inclement weather. The coach was once again going to work with the pitchers and she asked if I would work with the hitters. She brought out the Jugs pitching machine. I love the pitching machines and always loved going to the batting cages as a youth. I always thought it was crazy cool to have a hard rubber baseball whip past your head at 90 miles an hour without being afraid that it was going to actually hit you. The first five girls hit the ball well and seemed to improve as the machine threw to them. I had the other girls retrieving the hit balls and returning them to the machine while someone fed them back into the mechanism.
After talking a little to one of the girls about the art of hitting, she took the first pitch. It was way off target from where the home plate was placed. The base had been moved about a foot off from where the jugs machine was throwing. I moved the plate and stood behind it to watch a ball come out. I told the girl feeding the ball into the machine to fire one at me and she hesitated. She remembered the rules about the machine that I had preached about before we started it up. I was very clear that no one ever stood in front of the machine when a ball was pitched. I was also very strict when I said that the person pitching the ball had to make sure that no one would accidently walk in front of a pitch. I told them about dangerous the machine could be and to remember that we would always practice safety first and hitting second.
I reassured her that it was okay to fire a ball at me. She reluctantly did and it came at me moving at the speed of heat. I fully intended to step aside at the last minute but the ball seemed to hang in the air and taunted me to catch in barehanded. I reached out and snagged the ball from midair, easily, effortlessly, and quite impressively if I can be honest. I rolled it back to the pitcher, reached down and moved the plate to where I thought the ball was and called for another pitch. Once again, the girl hesitated but I encouraged her to send it to me. She did and once again, I caught it barehanded and rolled it back. I told the hitter not to try this because we wanted to be safe.
I readjusted the plate and called for a third ball. Once again, the pitcher hesitated but sent it. I knew the instant before the ball touched my hand that it was rising and that my hand was slightly too low. I couldn’t readjust my right hand before the ball impacted my ring finger. It hit with a resounding thud and I immediately thought that my finger was broken. I grabbed it with my left hand and started pulling hoping to release the pressure on the knuckle. I could feel it throbbing in my left. I knew this was going to hurt and it needed ice. Being the calm, cool collected dad I am not, I walked off and told the new hitter to start hitting. I found the coach and asked if she had the key to the kitchen to get some ice. Her keys were in her car and when she asked why, I just said that I jammed my finger but didn’t tell her why or how bad. I didn’t want to be fired for being stupid.
I finished practice and went to my son’s baseball practice. When my wife picked up my daughter from practice; she looked at it and I told her how it happened, she called me a dummy, it was her professional opinion since she is a nurse. They stopped at the local pharmacy and picked up a finger splint for me. Three hours later, I finally got some ice on the finger and my wife said that I needed some Advil to help with the swelling. She gave me one and I took it. After it was down, she laughed when she told me it was an Advil PM. She knew what I needed to help me sleep and an hour later, I was out like a pumpkin.
Until next time, be safe and keep on rockin.