Tag Archives: LIFESTYLE

US Middle Class is Dying

FACTOID: According to the Social Security Administration fifty-one percent of American workers earn less than $30,000 a year. The simple reality is, one cannot call them self middle class on that level of income. Another simple truth is, there are not enough jobs in America that pay a high enough wage for a strong middle class to exist.

middle class

Tips on Makin’ Smoke

Most people know that the secret to turning tough cuts of meat into tender, juicy, and delicious barbecue involves cooking it in a smokey, low heat environment for a long time. Low and slow as the saying goes.

Over the years I’ve tried lots of different smokers and seen many more being used by others, including competition BBQ teams. Just about anything can be used if the temperature can be controlled while introducing smoke. At the Georgia State BBQ Championship I even saw a guy using the interior and front trunk of a VW Beetle for a smoker. You couldn’t see what was inside, however, because the windows were blacked out by layers of smokey residue.

Several years ago I got tired of tending to hours of charcoal and wood fires and began trying to create smoke with my Weber propane grill. The problem is, wood won’t smolder and smoke at the low temps needed to cook a pork butt slowly.

My solution turned out to be creating a separate “hot” fire for the wood chips, and a “low” fire for the meat. I took an aluminum pie pan, punched some ventilation holes in it, built a small charcoal fire in it, and once the coals got hot enough I piled on the chip. I then lit off the gas burners, adjusted for a temperature of about 225 degrees, and let it do the low and slow magic while the charcoal kept the smoke rolling.

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Ten Years Ago on a Cold Dark Night, Came Katrina

Hard to believe but it’s been ten years since America witnessed one of the nation’s greatest natural disasters. At least it began as a natural disaster but unfortunately it quickly became a man-made fiasco.

New-Orleans-AerialI’m a big fan of New Orleans, having been there on many occasions. The first visit was somewhat an accident. We took a trip to the Mississippi coast and decided to visit the Cajun country in rural Louisiana. Driving along the coastal road we suddenly found ourselves on Rampart Street with the French Quarter in full view. I had just read a story about NOLA being the nation’s murder capital and had meant to avoid it during our trip. Nevertheless, here we were so we decided to park the van and check it out a little. We ended up getting a hotel on Rue Bienville in the heart of the Quarter. We only spent the night but had a great time and  left with a new perspective.

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Ohioans, How Will You Vote?


It was just announced that the AG of Ohio has certified a petition to force onto the November ballot the issue of both medical and recreational marijuana consumption. The question is, how will Ohioans vote? How will you vote?

Please take part in the following straw poll:

[poll id=”4″]

Wages and Cost of Living for Highland County, OH

In reading an article about the positive affects of IKEA’s recent increase in minimum wages I came across a cost of living calculator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I looked up Highland County, OH and here’s what resulted.  NOTE: You’ll need to click on each image to enlarge

Wage Requirements:

hico a


hico b


Expected Average Incomes:


hico c

My Grandfather’s Seersucker Suit

searsucker suitMy wife and I were sitting on the sofa this evening and I took note of how her seersucker blouse and gray hair reminded me of my grandfather who often could be seen walking along the sidewalk in his seersucker suit, white shirt, bow tie, and straw Panama hat.

My father could be a very dapper dresser and it is no surprise he inherited this trait from his father. I never saw my dad wearing seersucker but he could walk the dog in the best that Hart Schaffner Mars and Oleg Cassini could muster up.

Janet and I got to discussing how formal things were during our childhoods and how distant the thought of enduring the heat and humidity of August wearing a suit in public is to us today.  Today’s typical American probably resist even putting on shorts in August.

There’s a New Cookbook in Town!

Michelle Beatty Prater is a MHS graduate, resident of Leesburg, OH, and one heck of a good cook. Over the course of the past couple of years she has also become somewhat of an expert on eating a healthy diet and living a quality lifestyle.

As part of her life changes she has taken the time to author a cookbook of recipes and healthy tips on treating yourself better. The book, That’s Supper in the Burg, is now on sale at Amazon in digital format for an affordable $4.99.

In the past year, or so, Michelle has lost close to 200 pounds so I know there’s something in her book that can be of value if you have to lose a few yourself.

Michelle's Book

Don’t You Think This Technology Thing Done Got Out of Hand

sexual revolution

When American was experiencing its first sexual revolution following the advent of the birth control pill came about I must have been out of the country because I missed it.

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Just a Fad

I got a chuckle out of Lord Grantham’s comment during the second episode of Downton Abbey. His Lordship is not the most progressive looking character and when asked to consider purchasing a radio for the mansion he put up a wall of resistance. At one point he commented that radio was, “Just a fad.”

Once he relented it was historically interesting to see how involved getting a radio was in 1920 England. It required a technician to deliver and properly install it. A certain learning curve also had to be mounted.

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The price of teeth

Couple of years ago I had a root canal done on one of the few molars I have. Went for a cleaning two weeks ago and was told the tooth dental implanthad cracked and is becoming infected. Options are to have it extracted and pretend I can chew meat or, have it extracted and get an implant. I’ve decide to go with the implant in the hope I’ll live long enough to enjoy some more BBQ.

Sitting here reflecting over my dental history I’m wondering just how much money has gone into maintaining my pearlies? In my era dental hygiene wasn’t stressed, rotten teeth were common and dentists didn’t bother too much with fillings. People were poor, didn’t have insurance, and fluoride in the water or toothpaste was something for the future. About every kid I knew had a few black holes in their smile and my brother and I may be the first in our family to leave this world with some of our original teeth. Everyone else ended up keeping theirs in a jar overnight.

This one tooth has had several fillings, a root canal with a crown on top, and now needs removed and replaced with an implant with yet another crown attached to that. Between myself and my insurance company this tooth alone has witnessed at least $9,000 spent on it.

Over all I’d say nature screwed up when designing teeth for the human specie. Why, after all the millenniums of evolution, aren’t we born with titanium chompers?

Barbecue Heavens

For at least ten years I was in search of the world’s best barbecue and have driven countless miles and made countless out-of-the-way wilber shirley's bbqtrips following up a lead. One of the first times I had Southern BBQ was at Maurice Bessinger’s Piggie Park in Columbia, SC and for a short time it was my standard. Then my brother and sister-in-law turned me on to Wilber’s BBQ (Wilber Shirley) BBQ in Goldsboro, NC.

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It’s a helmet stupid, wear it!

watch for bikersOn a recent trip I had stopped at a rest stop and gave my wife a call. Among the items discussed was the death of a local person in a motorcycle accident. The irony was this person had recently helped run a class on motorcycle safety and at the time of his death he had not been wearing a helmet.

Back on the Interstate I had five bikers pass me, two carrying passengers, and none wearing helmets or any other safety equipment. Seventy miles an hour and not an ounce of protection to be seen.

This spring I’ve noticed a proliferation of yard signs imploring drivers to “Watch out for motorcycles.” Is it possible bikers aren’t doing enough to watch out for themselves?