oxford is a killer awesome place

what a quaint and wonderful little town. “the square” which is what they call the downtown area, looks like a movie set it’s so dang cute. every store looks independently owned and they all seem to be thriving. i can’t believe all the restaurants and bars we saw. not only that but clothing boutiques and cute shops…. even a big bookstore called square books and down the block another square books for used books and then another block was the square books jr. for kids books. the kids bookstore was amazing! there were toys and books and the place was blowing my mind but it was closing so we’ll be back tomorrow to get the kids something.

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i saw these pizza socks…

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and this cool water tower…

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and at this one dive bar there was this cute swing where you could drink and swing:

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these aren’t the best photos i could get but honestly i was having so much fun i forgot to take many pictures. the weather is great and the people are all extremely friendly. there was a baseball game going on a couple blocks away and when it was over there was a huge fireworks display and the perfect view was out hotel 3rd story window.

so far it’s been fun. my coolers are packed with fresh ice and i’ll be up early getting ready to make some pies.

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top 10

i was joking tonight that with 9 pizzerias in the SEC pizza bake-off, i’m sure to wind up in the top 10.
but seriously, i didn’t realize how much planning and organizing i would need to put this trip together. a friend to stay at the house, a place to park the car in orlando, a rental in memphis, the kids plan, and the all day figuring and packing ingredients. i have gone over it a few times in my head and can’t think of what that one thing is i will wish i would have brought. traveling with ingredients for 8 pizzas by 2 cars and a plane is not as simple as i first imagined.

i’m ready to win or lose, and i’m ready to drink beer and eat pizza. i’m ready to give it my best shot. and while i am a competitive person, i realize that even if i think my pizza is the best, others might taste it differently. why, i was told in a text recently that my pizza is just “not that good.” for all the folks raving about it, there’s a few folks knocking it down. but any way you slice it, it’s obvious that i am trying hard and i am sincere about serving up more than just lunch or dinner. live music, local art, community events like storytelling…and interesting things you don’t always see like an airplane mounted above you or a train running a track overhead in lightnin’ salvage. i will admit that the pizza is only part of what i love about my life. only part of what excites me about my job and my goals. soon we may add book signings once a month. soon we may finish our 2 year bocce tournament. soon we’re having the third? or fourth? “night of a thousand ukeleles.” soon we may switch to local sausage from the live oak pigs. soon we may continue to realize our dreams.

right now i am proud about the train. the plane was so much easier than the train. i can put a number on the airplane cost. it all fits neatly on list of expenses. but the train? i spent weeks, maybe months, building the track. i turned it over to pete because it wouldn’t work and he spent weeks, maybe months tweaking it, cleaning it, making it safe. still a no go. more weeks go by. i’ve given up. i admit defeat. i feel a little sad that i thought i could accomplish it and didn’t. then a customer, bob, offers to help. he sets up a train around his christmas tree every year and he’s got time and patience and the desire. my hope is rekindled. awesome.

bob spends a few days… then a week…. then a second and third week…. still our problems persist. i give up again. i feel a bit sadder than the first time because now i couldn’t do it and pete couldn’t do it (and pete can do anything) and then bob can’t do it (and i believed in bob) and so i accept my defeat again (but more completely.)

then bob goes to a train thing. a gathering of train enthusiast somewhere…. and he tells them about it and they give him some ideas… and then bob is back with a neatly trimmed white beard black clad train guru. within a couple hours would you believe they had that baby rolling and clattering along like a champ?! it was a power issue. we needed more wires on the track. we needed a different cleaner on the track. we needed a few little things but it was a dream that wasn’t dead. i had to chastise myself for giving up. i sat and watched the train tonight while i listened to the musician belt it out, i sat there and watched that one little girl watching the train in amazement, and the adults too, pointing and watching like it was a spinning wheel of water in the middle of a parking lot…. and i thought, “wow. it actually happened. i had an idea and other people had the know how. it took 4 or us to put our heads together to finish that project. and actually it’s not even finished because now john and i will come along and decorate the track. i want to hang clouds. john bought a water tower with a light at the top. we’ll make buildings and trees and a tunnel. maybe the tunnel can look like a cave…

yes, i love making pizzas delicious. i love getting the elements just right so the sauce and cheese and toppings are balanced and the crust is cooked just so. i love the caramelization that happens when it’s done just right. but i also love the kids faces when they see the train. i love that even adults feel some sensory overload. i love that employees are all so diverse and yet working together to create a complex and yet unified experience. it definitely goes awry from time to time, and parts of the machine get worn and faulty. but then again, most of the time the property as a whole is in sync. i don’t think about it so much as satchel’s like this and LSE like that and employees in this way and customers in that way…. but all of these are happening together like a song, like play or a dance. the food is one part of the equation. the music and lightning and service are another.

i set these goals for myself. i set goals i think are unattainable but yet they are simple goals too in the scheme of things. people build skyscrapers and climb mountains, so if my goal is a train that goes around overhead or to make my own soda, these things are within reach. and then the thing rears up to challenge me, and at times i feel i have lost. and in the end, at least with the train and the sodas, i did not lose. in the end i meet and enjoy a conversation with my expectation. i take into account that my goal was small, so as not to get too inflated an idea of myself, and i try and relish the feeling of accomplishment for just a little while. then, it’s time to think about what else can be done? what else can i accomplish this year or this week? let it be small or big but let me know progress.

i haven’t worked a lunch shift in a long time. i mean really worked a lunch shift. bussed tables, made pies, stressed, any of it! today i was feeling a bit guilty about that. but i also feel proud that i have learned to trust those i hired and trained and now entrust to carry out the mission of serving folks. i don;t work lunch because they seem to have it down. they are capable and ready for whatever business walks through the door or calls on the phone. they handle it. they tackle it. they do it with smiles and jokes and integrity. night crew does too but i still have not been able to train enough and staff enough folks to handle everything that gets thrown at us on a busy night. or maybe i am just scared that once i do get it under control they won’t need me around anymore.

it was sad to stop driving my van and give it to the restaurant. it was sad to stop working the oven and hand it over to the young people. it was sad to stop working a pizza shift and just watch and observe. but each time i did it to free up time for my kids, or for making art, or so i could step back and take in the whole picture.

i am a full time artist who enjoys baking. if they don’t like my pizza in oxford mississippi, or that one guy thinks my pizza is “not that good,” that’s just not a problem. baking is just one of the hobbies i have and i am fine with being a guy who is a jack of all trades, master at none. i am not a master of baking, or painting, drawing, graphic art, stained glass, or gardening. but i am “good” and some of those things and that is enough for me. i get overwhelmed when i see some artist like vollis simpson. i am in awe by painters like georgio morandi. reading great writing like mark twain can make a man feel useless.
if you look at gaudi then over at me, i will look like a stumblebum or a simpleton.

that’s cool by me. i like being me. i’m ok with being just ok. in fact, that’s part of what makes me me. i’ll never have a city museum. but i’ll have a satchel’s pizza. and it’s enough for me. it’s not perfect and it is perfect.

forgive me for being a sentimental chap. for talking too much. for trying to explain. i don’t even want to tell you but my fingers take over. i am inspired and humbled by the artist mentioned here and lots of other artists too. like ono chikkyo, a painter i discovered while i visited japan. no one here has ever heard of him. no one. but his paintings are so sumblime. it is art that propels me through my days. art. i find pizza to be an art. i am so fortunate to be able to now make art and pizza as a job.

midnight again. time to wrap this up even if i am not yet at 2500 words. i still have to get gas, pack my car, make the kids breakfast and lunch and get them to school. there’s a long list here on my desk of things to remember and to pack and i need to be on interstate 75 by 9am. 9 hours from now.

i’ll try my best to take a few pictures, to tell a story, to include you in the trip to
m-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i.
or not.
got to try and do like my wife always does and “go with the flow.”
hmmmm

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SEC bake-off

next weekend is the SEC pizza bake-off in oxford mississippi. which basically just means they made up a title to try and get more people to come to their beer festival and have an event where folks would get to eat pizza. it’s the first annual event, or at least they are calling it that, so there are 9 participants from 7 schools.
i won’t lie to you, i am a competitive person. i would normally avoid these contests because they take me away from my business and they don’t really mean much, but they hooked me when they called it an SEC thing and asked if i’d represent the gators. anyway, no one wants to go and lose, but 8 pizzerias will essentially lose because who wants to brag about being second place? whatever. i agreed to go mostly because when i asked the facebook fans it was the most popular post ever and fans really want me to do it. the smaller reason is that it’s a chance for my wife and i to go to a beer festival and take a couple day “vacation” in a town we’ve never been to. i don;t go expecting to win, but i certainly will do my best. the tricky thing is that the ovens will be different, i’m not accustomed to attending this sort of thing, and there’s just no telling what curve ball will be thrown in my direction. regardless of how well or badly i do there, i will try and write about it here so interested parties can follow. if nothing else it is something different from my very regular routine.

here’s the info i have on the pizzerias and schools:
from auburn: brick oven pizza co.
LSU: fleur de lis
Ole miss: tribecca allie cafe
Ole miss: tre amici
mississippi state: lost pizza
univ of alabama: little italy
vanderbilt: nashville pizza company
vanderbilt: five points pizza
UF: satchel’s pizza

i don’t want to get into too many details of the pizza i plan to make yet because you never know if those other pizzerias are on to me, following my every move.. ha.
better keep it on the down low.

it’s been a long week for me. i’m tired. i stay up too late and wake up too early. i stress about every little thing. i have a lot of “irons in the fire.” tuesday was a crazy day for me, my mind being bombarded. thursday was another hard one with several caterings on top of each other and they didn’t go as smoothly as i would have liked. the stress from that was too much. my shoulders are tight, the blood flow to my brain is minimal. my fuse is short. i am always working on self improvement. always trying to figure out better coping strategies. always trying to make my restaurant run better and more efficient and trying to do that in my personal life as well. but change doesn’t come easy. and i take my job way too seriously most of the time.

i would not do this job if it weren’t for the two days off. knowing that the doors are closed and my phone won’t ring with a problem. there is no wondering how we are staffed or if the dough is properly proofed and the pizzas properly made and the service properly serviceable. there’s just the calm and mellow day with no big agenda. sundays are a gift from god. mondays are good too but i have to get up and get my daughter off to school which is slightly like work. but after that mondays are pretty awesome too. i live for the weekends. as much as i still enjoy my job, and enjoy entertaining and feeding folks…. i am pretty much an introvert actually and love staying home and doing my hobbies. it’s not that i don;t love what i do but that i love it because it is balanced with some days off where i get down time. me time. family time. quiet time.

i’m tired. so tired. i always push myself to do a hundred things a day but by this time of night on a saturday i am sort of wrecked. thanks for tuning in. remember that post a few back where i said i would stop writing? well, that may still be true, but i did want to at least fill in the story of the pig farm and the pizza competition. after that who knows? i guess i feel a bit guilty since i agreed to talk to this group of writers in june and if i quit writing then i’ll seem like a big fake. ha. no, but there is this weird thing with me enjoying writing and being afraid of expressing myself in this forum. i’ve been writing regularly for 30 years but it’s only been recently that most if my writing has gone to this public space. when it was private and i could just print the pages and fill up a 3 ring binder, that was so fun. there was no one reading it, no one to answer to, no one to write for. it was so easy. but now, i know some people are following this and similar to the feeling of being responsible for the diners who walk in my restaurant, i feel a tiny bit of responsibility to my readers. is it right to just close my shop and make my pizzas at home for me?

changes. privacy. insecurity. the more i tell you the more you know me. the more you know me the more insecure i feel. it’s as if i’m afraid all of a sudden everyone will realize i am a boring guy with nothing to say and not much going on. i feel great about that personally but scared about that as a public figure. customers are always so excited to meet me and make a big deal out of it. i can;t tell you how many times i hear a customer whisper to their friends or family, “that’s satchel.” it happened tonight while i was at the table. they whispered it like i couldn’t hear them but i could hear them so plainly. it’s hard to live up to a persona. it’s hard to feel like people look up to you when you are just a regular guy with everyday problems. it’s hard to be a public person when deep down i am an introvert and a private person.

i will admit that one thing i love about the blog is that is archived online. i don’t feel the need to print every post and put them in a binder like i have done my whole life with my writing. i trust that it will just live online forever. my kids can go read my rambling from the beginning one day. my grand kids can follow my mania if they so choose. it’s out there for anyone to see. there’s something cool about that, interesting, expressive, undiluted, raw, real, honest, tender. conversely, there is something so self absorbed about it, so stupid, so egocentric, so lame, self important, cocky, ugly, trite. it’s the constant tug of war between these two real scenarios that troubles me. on the one hand i love writing into the void, printing the pages, deleting the files and putting them in a 3 ring binder and storing them in a chest like a time capsule. on the other hand i like writing in the open, for anyone, no invitation or special permit needed. just come look at my mind and feelings and anxieties. i’ll expose my faults for all to mock and chuckle at. but the two hands struggle back and forth for supremacy.

midnight comes so quickly when i write. midnight reminds me how tired i am. how silly i am. how foolish i am. midnight basically yells at me to shut up.

is there anyone, who can write about nothing, as much as me?

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full circle farm

so a couple weeks back a few pounds of sausage links arrive in my walk-in at work, 1.5 pounds of mild italian sausage and 1.5 pounds of spicy italian sausage. there’s a paper with pricing and info about the farm. minimal info but clear.
i bring it home and a couple days later we have my mom and my in-laws over for sausage on the grill. these links were great! i had a couple spicy ones and the meat was tasty, lean, and really good. so much so that the next day i called the number on the attached card. brian. pig farmer.

with a brief conversation i learned that brian had recently moved from california to start this pork operation and he said his pigs were roaming free in a wooded copse. i wasn’t even sure i knew what the word copse meant but in my mind i saw pigs in the forest, and it all sounded like bacon. i decided i should plan a field trip to the farm and see this for myself. while i know very little about pig farming, i never imagined pigs in the forest roaming free. i mean, this sort of thing seemed natural but i just thought pig farming as a smelly, crowded, thick and depressing environment. brian seemed enthusiastic about his endeavor and eager to have me visit his operation. we settled on the following sunday and he said to bring the kids.

when i got up sunday morning it was much later than i usually wake up and i was feeling really well rested as i stumbled out of bed just after 8am. it was after 9 when my wife and son emerged and almost 10 when i had to go and look at my daughter to make sure she was still there. as i stepped softly into her room and approached her bed, her eyes opened slightly and she smiled.
at some point in my fog i put the farm address in my phone and noticed it was about an hour and a half drive. yikes.

since our very usual routine is to soak up the minutes like paint drying on sunday mornings and stretch out breakfast into lunch and lunch into dinner…… it was a bit challenging to rally the troops and get out by 10:45. i had at first said “10 or 11am” to brian via email and he responded with “see you at 11.” when i realized we would be quite behind schedule i texted him, and my 11am arrival was off by an hour and a quarter. i am not usually one to be late but in this case i was amazed i was even able to get the whole family in the car and on location without at least a couple defectors. somehow this fact negated my usual stresses about being late.

the day was bright and pretty comfortable. brian welcomes us from overalls, a straw hat and red beard. the kids petted the dog and quickly found a climbing tree. brain showed us his keyhole beds and fruit trees and blueberry bushes. my wife is so up on gardening and plant names and she and brian were over my head in a minute, talking peach trees and asparagus, and before long we met brian’s wife, angela at the back door and decided to go see the pigs before lunch.

garden

a golf cart carried the 5 of us… brian and i in front and caroline and the kids on the bench seat facing back. we learned a bit about brian’s interest in permaculture, in the natural order of things, and that he had been in the marine corps. soon we arrived to find some eager pigs. my kids were excited. the pigs had been trained to an electric wire and were cordoned off in an acre of forrest. i lifted my daughter over and my son jumped and they were entranced for a spell as they tried to “pet or touch” a pig.

s & c with pigs

so cool! these were a young bunch and we learned that as they forage and dig and burrow, they regenerate vintage greenery, and help in keeping the forest healthy. brian tells us after a while when the pigs have cleared an area he wires off a new spot and they all head right over to eat and enjoy the next patch of green. he’s been given 60 acres of forest to use and the land owner basically just wants a percentage of the profit in exchange.

soon we’re back on the golf cart and deeper into the woods. we find the pack of pigs that is a week from slaughter. big fatties. they look about as happy as pigs could be. they bury their snouts in the dirt, rub their butts on a tree as a scratching post, and grunt and lay around and nap. we learn that pigs are smart and social and usually follow the leader pig.

pig

close to these big ones are the litter of babies. brian says because they don’t have as much fat they get out of the wired areas easier and don’t feel the shock as much. he ends up chasing them down and trying to train them to the wire. it sounds like hard work but somehow a bit of fun too, running around the woods chasing baby pigs….

pigs

we walk a few hundred feet to another group. he knows they are out in the woods nearby so he calls for them …”PIG PIG PIG PIG PIG PIG PIG PIG PIG”
and here they come put of nowhere….. striped ones and spotted ones, pink ones and brown ones…. a whole mess of breeds. maybe 15 or so pigs come running through the woods to see us.

spotty pig

by this time my kids were both hungry. they wanted to get back to whatever mystery lunch these farmers had prepared for us. and so we hit brian with more questions as we made our way back to the farm house. who does this sort of farming? where did he learn? is this a common way to do things? we learned that this is NOT a common way to raise pigs for food. this is something he is learning and inventing and innovating. brian is full of excitement in his monotone marine corps way. brian is perfectly suited to this line of work. he’s smart, methodical, dedicated, and interested in being in touch with the food he eats. he’s not interested in growth hormones, pesticides, steroids and industrial farming. he easily expresses his love for what he does and his strong conviction that it’s good for us and the earth to farm organically. it made so much sense. here’s the kind of person it takes to do this: a smart, young, disciplined marine from california. i don’t know. it’s hard to put the pieces together with words here on the internet, but there on the golf cart and in the sunshine and copse, the whole thing just seemed right. like this was the only way anyone should ever raise pigs.

back at the farm house, angela had a spread waiting for us. the house was IMMACULATE. the floors were all tile and we took off our shoes before entering. since i only had on my sunday birkenstocks, i was able to feel the cool tile with my bare feet. i can tell you now there was not a speck of dust or sand in the place. the house was neat as a pin and the lunch was delicious. there was a gallon of fresh cow milk on the table and sausage links and pulled pork. salad and rice and some slaws. my son was so happy about the milk. so creamy and raw. after lunch angela busted out homemade angel food cake, whip cream and berries. oh man. all those farm fresh egg whites and wheat flour…. the whip cream…. so good.

after lunch we got a brief tour of the rest of the farm. we learned the farm has another family that runs the dairy cows and meat cows, laying chickens and meat chickens. we saw the cows out in 2 separate pastures, meat cows in one and dairy cows in another. we saw the meat chickens which must be the definition of free range. they had a huge coop that got moved around the farm. we saw several small sinkholes in the fields as we passed, and i could’t help but wonder if they might swallow us up at any minute.

we saw the laying chickens under their coop in a field. brian said they never go more than a couple hundred yards from home during the day. he said they get 80 or 90 eggs per day…

chicken coop

and as we talked a bit of shop arriving back at home base, we discussed the tenderloin, the ribs, the pork belly and the pounds of sausage we could buy for pizza topping. we talked about potentially needing a pig a week and how we might be able to start experimenting with seasoning the sausage ourselves and crumbling the fresh pork on the pie instead of dicing linked sausage like we do now.

brian gave me a couple dozen fresh eggs, more links of sausage, some unseasoned and unlinked sausage, and a small pack of bacon. fortunately my wife thought to bring a cooler.

brian nd angela

my daughter decided she wants to stay out there and live. she wants to be a farmer and take care of pigs and chickens and climb trees. we stopped at the itchetucknee spring head on the way home. the water was cold but also refreshing. we all swam a while then laid in the sun on a towel.

we had to get back for a dinner with family. my in-laws were about to leave for seattle and my wife’s aunt and uncle were in town too. my mom also came and we all met up at southern charm.

monday morning i was too tired to make the bacon so it was tuesday before i put three pieces in the pan. thick stuff. thick enough that one for me, one for my boy and one for my wife was enough. my daughter is not a bacon fan so i am trying to find her real father now. :)
that bacon was the best ever. wow. what can i tell you? how do you describe the best bacon? think about the best bacon you ever had. now think about that times 3.

the sausage we got is not enough to make a lot of pies at work but i’m thinking it will be enough to take with me to mississippi for the SEC pizza bake off. i wish i had more to experiment with before i go but honestly i may have just enough to eat a bite and pack up for travel. that’s another story i plan to bring you here. the trip to mississippi for a pizza competition. i haven’t done this sort of thing so it might be interesting. it also might be boring but either way i hope to tell you way too much about it here.

i think we have some really excellent sausage already at satchel’s, and i know some people might be really sad if we replace it with this new sausage, i hope to explore this option and see how it tastes and works on a satch pie and am interested to see if it is just hands down better or up for debate among sausage lovers. the diced link sausage we do now does have a nice crispy-ness to it when it heats up just so. brian is gonna have me a big batch of sausage to try when i get back from my pizza contest trip. he’s got to get the pig slaughtered with USDA standards and inspectors before it can be sold to a restaurant. the next batch of pigs will be coming my way soon.

so, i will keep posting about it if i can find the time. i love finding folks like brian who love what they do and are so well suited to their job as well. we all have a way to fit into the system and it revives my interest in my own profession to see someone thriving in theirs.

and finally, i must admit, the only reason i have pictures and can post again is because of my new computer. the macbook air was a dud and after calling more 800 numbers i was told to take it in to a best buy and exchange it. i doubted this would work but it actually did. and so this new macbook air seems to be in perfect working order so far. no funny speaker sounds, no moving cursor…. and this allows me to upload my pictures and also type away for entirely too long. do not consider me a snob though because i still prefer my chrome book.

i am yawning big yawns now. it must be past midnight. tomorrow i hope to seriously do all the things on my list that i missed today.

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ch-ch-ch-changes….

brian nd angela

testing 123… determined to see if i can fix my inserting of photograph issues so i can tell you the story of full circle farm.

let me try another picture….pig

ok so it’s a big day for satchel raye. i decided to dig in to this site and try and figure out how to post photos. i ended up figuring out that changing my theme was the best way to make this work, or the easiest anyway. i was always quite fond of the simple theme i had but this one looks pretty sparse too and sparse is what i want. actually, i like how the black words look all crammed on the white page, i like that. but i do like the occasional photo and since i have a story to share and i wanted there to be photos from my field trip… i thought it was high time i figured out a way to make my blog site work better for me. i appreciate your patience as i explain all of this. now, i think i will start a new post that tells this story from start to finish without all the nonsense of my mentally challenged process. i will say this: i learn watching my kids. they don’t stop hitting buttons and looking to figure out how stuff works. i get so stuck in my ways and don’t want to just poke around and keep searching for a better way to express myself. if i can post pictures i think i will just have more tools available to tell my story. so when you find those posts that tell you i am giving up on my blog and giving up on trying to ever post pictures again, ignore those posts. i was mistaken. this new “theme” seems like it might just pump a bit of gas into my engine. at least for now.

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computer update

so you would have to be a long time reader to know this, but i have been very frustrated with the last couple apple computers i bought. i am not interested in learning the PC, and i can’t even stand to consider having to deal with anti-virus software all the time. fortunately there is google’s chromebook which has been hands down the best computer i’ve ever owned. it has some limitations but it does 98% of what i need it to do flawlessly.

a couple years ago i got a macbook pro laptop with credit card points. the cursor would sometimes move around when writing. since i look at the keys when typing and not the screen, this became unbearable. after sending it back to apple 5 times with no success, i gave up and got this google computer.

recently the new hard drive apple installed failed and so i bought a hard drive on amazon for $40 and was able to install that and use the computer as a place to sync my phone and a computer my kids could play minecraft on. my mom is now in the market for a computer and she’s decided she’s ready for an apple laptop. well, i see my chance to unload this macbook and i think that she will not be writing enough on it to get frustrated with the cursor issue so it will be perfect for her. anyway, if she tries it and has issues and problems, she can THEN buy a new one. but why not wipe the data off and let her try it out? but i still need a computer i can hook my phone up to and one the kids can play minecraft so i check my credit card points and i have enough to get a small macbook air. i figure even though i hate apple, i’m not actually buying it and the new air doesn’t have the fan and moving parts so it will be better.

got it yesterday. the sound is messed up. you can;t watch any video without the sound going in and out. i look up this issue online and see that LOTS of people say this is a problem with the macbook air. some folks cannot get their problem resolved. so, i’ve got to find an hour to call apple, troubleshoot with them over the phone, and ultimately ship it back for them to “fix.” they won;t take it back, and they won’t replace it, they will only try and “fix” it. i know this because i read it from all the other people and i was never able to get my last one replaced.

the iphone is pretty good. i say pretty good because mine has been in the shop twice for broken buttons. the ipad is about the best thing they’ve made but it isn’t as good as the chromebook. and their computers are complete crap. the desktop i bought is on it’s 3rd or 4th hard drive. and second “video card.” the laptop was never fixed, and now the air has a messed up speaker. right out of the box.

to play it safe i didn’t load any old data on it but just opened it up and started using it brand new. the speakers don’t work. can you believe it?

it really serves me right for talking so much about how i hated apple and then using my points to get another one! i really should have known better. and while i’m on the subject of being mad at companies, i will go ahead and say that it blows my mind that google has no app that can manage contacts on an iphone. i use gmail and cannot easily add people to contacts or groups using my phone. even on the computer i think it’s harder than it should be. so not only does google need to figure out contacts management, they need to get over the google plus thing. when i tried to delete my google plus account they stopped playing all my youtube videos! now sometimes recently when i am trying to go to gmail they send me to google plus and i have to go a complete different route to try and get to my gmail account.

i’m gonna tell you one thing right now that would be my dream job. the one thing that would make me filled with complete joy. that is if these big companies like google, facebook, twitter, amazon….. if they hired me to consult. i could make any one of these companies about 10 times better within a month. i know it sounds cocky of me, but i believe it’s true. somehow i wonder if the people running these companies know of the many problems inherent in their products. right now google is the closest to getting it right but they have such HUGE problems if they don’t see their is no easy way to manage contacts! seriously, how hard it is to create a contact app like apple’s?

ok. done venting about technology for now. again. it’s the biggest love/hate relationship i enjoy, despise.

i’ve been married 16 wonderful years today. so that’s the really good news.

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sh

still here
but more computer problems.
why do they plague me so?
i have “bad karma” with computers
still think the chromebook is the best laptop ever at this point.
the only downside i can communicate is that i can’t connect my phone to it.
which probably means i need a google phone.
you heard it here first.
google beats apple
hands down.
better.
1/4 the cost.
twice the function
but the keys are not lit
just sayin

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for every action……..

there is an equal and opposite re-action.

the good.

slept in to wake up and stress for an hour about the top little oven.
pilot seems low and twice yesterday the oven went out.

freddy came in to clean and re-size the pilot, and by noon the oven was up to temp.

rainy rainy dark sorta weather so i chilled with my family and read several chapters in the final book of the septimus heap series, to my son. cleaned my shop, swam some laps, and made general jokes with those around. went to work and fixed a couple things. sped over to mom’s to catch the game, and hurried back to work to work after the game.

trying to finalize a new wine menu, i tasted some chianti’s, malbec’s and grenaches’s. i even did a wine tasting with a table for the first time ever. they gave me the father/ daughter opinion and it was fun…. the pop in the north face sweatshirt, the 2 daughters at UF.
the father/ daughter weekend….
they finalized my decision on all 3 wines they tasted. it was good to see the dual generational customer opinion. while they didn’t always agree, father and daughter, they split their opinions with mine and so i trusted them.

the employees seemed happy. the food looked amazing. the mood was elated. the wine was intoxicating.

while i never drive drunk and i eat and drink water and am careful with my habits, i do get to have evenings that are quite the opposite of the stressful tension filled hours that sometimes just happen. i get to enjoy the non-stop roll out of crispy pizzas and calzones and the gator drunk customers who are so excited to try homemade sodas and eat real pizza. we give away cookies and cake late saturday nights and i am always making a couple pies to take home for the weekend. everyone is thinking about a full-on weekend and all the yelling i did on friday night is forgotten and forgiven.

for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

one night i am depressed. the next night i am encouraged.

it’s not all awful. i get to have fun. some days are so good they balance out the bad ones. i guess it’s like that with any job.

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bonus depressing post

this would have been the year to plan a spring break somewhere besides st. augustine. it was really quite cold and windy. being at the beach and not swimming in the ocean is sorta sad. we made the best of it of course, as i tend to do…. but i’ve always got that problem i wish i had paid attention to the weather or made a better plan. i didn’t even bring a pair of long pants to the beach and the high wednesday was 54. i’ve never been very good at following the weather.

returned to work thursday night and had to leave depressed when a calzone was sent to the wrong table and no one would admit to taking it there. i was faced with going to the table to ask them who delivered the wrong calzone but i stopped myself. i was too depressed to even go see them. i tell the kitchen all the time, i tell them…. we take the order correctly, we make the food correctly, we cook it in a timely fashion and then send it out to the wrong table? we can’t do this! we have to read the ticket, take our time, know where we are going.

i was so bummed about that the rest of the night. even the gators winning couldn’t wash away my depression about that mistake. and it’s not because i don’t allow for mistakes, but because 1. no one knew how it happened and 2. no one would confess to screwing up.
if we can’t figure out what went wrong then we can’t make it right the next time.

and the next time was tonight at closing. it rained all night, which already makes my night super hard. everyone is wet and crowded together. there is a longer wait. i’m worried someone will slip. it’s just a mess. well, i see this table with 3 of their 4 pizzas and when i go to check i find out the fourth pie was …. are you ready for this? …. sent to the wrong table. we took the order right, we made it right, we got them all to come out together, and then someone just fucked up. i know what you are thinking. i am a mind reader. no, actually i know because i spend my life doing this and think the same thing as you…. you should make sure you are dropping off the right pizza by asking them did you get this pepperoni pineapple whatever? it’s all supposed to happen. they are supposed to double check the toppings and the table #. they are supposed to make eye contact with the customers and call out what is on the pizza. they are supposed to call in the GM right away when a mistake occurs. none of those things happened. as much as i talk about it every night, and press upon them the importance of getting the food to the right table, it still goes wrong. breaks my heart. totally breaks it more than it should really. sends me out to a place where i don;t want to be. a depressed and upset place where i just don’t want to have a restaurant anymore.

i go over the protocols. i make sure they understand when they send the food out to the wrong table how the domino effect happens and we ruin someones meal and sometimes two tables meals. i try so hard.

i get so upset that i have to leave and go home. i spend my last few minutes yelling at everyone in sight. i try to understand how this could happen. i explain over and over how we’ve ruined their meal in this last silly step of just going to the right table. my exasperation is thick and overwhelming. i just leave.. i should go talk to the customers again with another apology, but i leave it up to my GM. i just have to take my depressed self home. to sulk. to wallow. to write. the food runners job is to cut the pies, check the pies, and deliver the pies. that’s their job. i realize that the direction i need to go is to try and get the 2 best and smartest people in the kitchen to do that job. i should have me and my manager on that job every night, making sure the pies look right and go to the right table. but it’s not that easy. it would take me probably about a year to get to that point. i would have to train new people to stretch dough and new people to make pizzas and hope they are all good enough to be fast and get to that high level to be able to handle a weekend night…. and then i could take the manager and move him to cutting pizzas and getting them to the right table. i don’t know. the guys making pies and cooking pies, i need them in those positions. it’s hard to figure out how to restructure the thing. i was in the kitchen all night running food and helping expedite. both last night and tonight when i was not in the kitchen is when it happened. maybe i should never leave the kitchen.

anyway, it’s not the end of the world, i know that. there are lots of bigger problems in the world, i know that. i shouldn’t take it so hard, i know that. but it just boils down to what i know and what i feel are different. i cannot help but being super depressed and upset when my crew runs food to the wrong table after the two hours it took to get those people in their seats and get their food made. i don’t know if i will ever be able to let that roll off my back as i wish so bad it could. it destroys my peace of mind. it makes me want to find another job.

i guess i feel a tiny bit better for getting it off my chest here. i know it comes across as over reacting. i realize when i talk about it this way that it must just seem like i am a madman. i get it. but there are other factors at play too. i have been working on this and a couple other issues for 11 years. and i don’t fix the problems. they persist. calzones still get made wrong, when the people making them have been doing them for many years and i’ve brought up the problems a hundred times. i could fire people but i don;t think that’s the right answer. i think the right answer is to keep trying to press my point, keep trying to explain how every single calzone is someones dinner, every pie going out HAS to go to the right table and have the right toppings. where is the room for mistakes? that’s a good question. i think there is room for mistakes. i just don’t think there’s a lot of room. the two nights in a row bit really hit me hard. that, and the fact that i just got back from my big spring vacation so i should be in much better shape than i am in right now…emotionally and spiritually and mentally. shouldn’t we return from vacation rested and excited to be back? i did feel that at the beginning of my shift yesterday. but by the end i was defeated. i wonder if there is hope for me in this business?

i apologize for the depressing post. i just need to express it. i need to explain how i can want it so badly and work at it so hard and it still can go wrong. it’s too big. there’s too many people. it’s too complex. but at the same time it should really be simple. the tickets are clear. the pizzas are correct. we can easily go weeks and weeks without messing up the toppings on the pies, or taking the order wrong. but taking them to the wrong table???? happens WAY too much. it’s a problem i’m determined to fix.

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bailing

it’s a strange time. i don’t know what makes it strange although i could make guesses. if i were making guesses i would guess it’s got something to do with getting older. passing the mean of my fourth decade. or it could just be a form of burnout. getting stressed too often. taking it all to heart too much. wanting every customer and employee to have the best experience and not being able to deliver. it could be the train. that stupid train that has taken hundreds of hours more than the plane to bring to life. there’s a big ass airplane suspended 12 feet overhead in the parking lot at work and it was easier to pull off than the toy train that goes around a track in the gift shop. at this point, after months of struggle, i am almost ready to admit defeat on that project. it’s not fun anymore. it’s annoying. it could be the trains fault. this strange time.

it’s strange because i feel a shift. a shift i am not ready to identify. but a shift that is sending me in a new direction. i just don’t know what direction it is. it’s likely not a direction that will look all that different. but it could be a direction without all the writing here. that’s the bailing part. sometimes i just want to bail and erase the blog. sometimes i want to get rid of all the apps on my phone. stop posting to facebook twitter instagram. i get tired. tired from interactions. tired from so many projects. tired from reading news.

in my youth i spent a lot of time alone. i lived alone on a tangerine grove in citra for a spell. i lived alone in some woods in atlanta. i lived alone in my van. i traveled alone some. i enjoyed the solitude. i think i would still enjoy solitude but i’d have to really seek it out. i know it sounds like a mid life crisis. maybe that’s the strangeness. maybe it’s got to do with getting older and tired. it doesn’t feel like a crisis though. not even close to a crisis. no. just a shift. a change. a strange thing because it feels different.

i think that youth has the potential to allow for solitude. as a young person, after leaving home, one is sort of alone in the world and can find time alone to just rest, dream, think, ponder. i spent a decade in that sort of state, with lots of people and action of course, but without the weight of much responsibility. the last decade has been heavy on responsibility. the family. the restaurant. customers. the things like cars and houses i own and have to keep up. add to that a responsibility to community and employees and the constant connection to the world by the phone and the web. the web. it is a web. a place to get caught up in like a fly. solitude is so much harder to come by with so many connections and so many people depending on my actions being calculated and intelligent.

watching my daughter the other day at the spring school carnival, she was dancing with her bestie. she was jumping and twirling and just as free and excited as she’ll ever be. she was running through a field and falling in the high clover, then running and collapsing in the tall weeds. she was as full of cheer and joy as a human can be. you almost have to be 9 to experience that sort of pure happiness. lots of things at the carnival costs tickets. 2 tickets to freeze dance, 4 tickets for the cake walk. 4 tickets for cotton candy…. after running through the field and falling in the wild flowers, she was heading back to the carnival proper and she said, “they should charge 5 tickets to come run around here,” and she laughed.

somehow the strangeness and changeness that i feel is not a midlife crisis or a burnout or a bad thing. maybe it is just a longing for a solitude. a longing to be unknown, unfollowed, unimportant. i have a feeling that leads me to want to spend more time at my home studio, less time on my phone. less time with the computer. more time in the yard. less time rambling on about nothing… more time doing nothing.

some people choose to ramp up their careers. they may dabble in public speaking and go on to inspirational speaking and then to writing a book. they can begin in a company and rise through the ranks to be the boss. they can expand their company and open more companies. i want to go in the other direction. i want to simplify. i want to build a machine that does not need my constant attention and maintenance. i want to slink back into the shadows, fade back behind my privacy fence, close up the laptop. turn off the phone. just become more invisible for a while.

it may or may not happen. what i feel today changes with the weather. i can be excited to write and want to write all the time, and on a dime i can be fed up with the public eye, this modern blog space, and choose to take my writing underground, or stop altogether. i get into a jag where i just want to work on stained glass for weeks. then it’s collage, then painting. sometimes it becomes an obsession at work, a mural or mosaic or mobile. i get fed from these art projects. but i have to work to find the rhythm, to make the time, and to fall into the solitude that is waiting for me in art.

my time has run out for today. i was lucky to find time to write this even. i smashed these words in between appointments. i felt i had to give a “just in case i don’t post again for a while” story. or explanation, or exploration…. whatever you want to call it. i still have a yearning to talk more about what it’s like for me at work on a busy night when my adrenaline pumps so hard and i get running around trying to keep a handle on the beast and interact with hundreds of people and become the guy throwing a huge party and the caterer of that party at the same time and every weekend not once but two nights, every friday and saturday. i wanted to try and talk about that more, how it seeps into my dreams, how i get so intense and even to the point of exploding sometimes. it’s worth trying to express one of these nights. so i might get back to that soon.
running late now….

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let me bore you more

forgive me for having nothing to say. i am warning you now that i expect and predict my posts to get more and more boring as i age and settle in to my late 40′s. i do not intend to talk about my family much, details about my kids and home life, as these are just too personal, (although regular readers may have noticed a morsel here and there…) i do not intend to talk about details of the customers or employees in particular, as this is simply not professional and – what’s the word?… tacky.
and i am not going to discuss local gossip or involve myself with local dramas like the buddha belly or citizen’s co-op situations, because frankly i don’t have enough information about these topics — and while i may follow local stories via facebook posts and comments, i really am not in a position to chime in. i am not here to just make up non-fiction as i am really bad at making stuff up. so what is left? i’ll tell you what is left — the boring and self absorbed topic of me, my sleep habits, my eating habits, my personal struggles and successes, and my normal daily activities. i am coming up soon on 16 years of marriage to my wonderful wife. i am about as settled in as a guy can be. i live in my grandparents house. i am not a betting man but i would be willing to bet i will never move from my house. i imagine i will keep this same job until i die. i spent a lot of my 20′s traveling and experiencing new things. i spent my 30′s settling down and opening a restaurant. and now at 46 i am just getting about as comfortable as a man can be. i am enjoying my kids so much, watching them grow up, becoming friends with them. i am getting boring and i like it. i listen to podcasts instead of music. i write instead of read. i paint instead of watch tv. and i will talk about my aches and pains, my sleep habits, and maybe give some small insights about running satchel’s. but seriously, while it’s never a dull moment to me, and while i thoroughly enjoy my life most of the time, it’s not exciting to read about. i just do this to unload my mind. writing is one of my hobbies. even though i have nothing to say i really like the idea of writing thousands of words about nothing. it’s similar to making art from junk i find, or painting something with mis-mixed dollar quarts of house paint from lowe’s. it’s the joy of creating something where there was nothing… making a blog post where there wasn’t one. having a stained glass window in my greenhouse where there was stapled up plastic last week. there’s a reason my favorite painter is morandi. morandi painted still life’s of bottles his whole life. just simple still life after still life of dusty bottles and jars. muted colors. centered on the canvas. nothing spectacular. nothing screaming at the viewer. so subtle and simple and for me sublime. i am drawn to his images quite incredibly. and i think that he has influenced me in that i like to talk about nothing. describe simple everyday things, lead a simple existence. my paintings are simple. my writing is simple. my daily life is pretty uneventful by most standards. you won’t find good gossip here. you won’t find extraordinary stories. you likely won’t learn anything new.

i must confess i did not want to mention my 5/2 diet and the whole thing about attempting to lose weight because i knew in the back of my mind i would be bad at it. i am much more interested in eating than i am in being thin. i am much more interested in living fully than living long. i am the kind of person who wants desperately to go against the conventional wisdom that says we should have insurance and be a healthy weight and always wear a seat belt and always wear shoes. maybe i’m a free spirit??
so because i made the huge mistake of mentioning the diet, now i have to confess i gave up. i was getting depressed. i am not a man who is familiar with depression and i was finding some depression not just occasionally but 2 days a week when i was fasting. it finally got to me when i was getting depressed the night before the fast, realizing that the next day i would not be eating. i think if i have to pick between depression and obesity i pick obesity. of course, having neither would be great but we can’t have everything we want in life. can we? maybe we can, maybe we should strive to have it all, but as i have said before: i am not unhappy in my obesity. i am not unhappy with my body image. i feel like i am an average american 46 year old and i am okay with that. i actually like it. i don’t want to be special or perfect. i like being a fat artist pizza guy. sure, i think it would be awesome to be thin and more flexible and more healthy and stuff, but while i tried to take the first ever step toward that goal, i gave it up for now. oh it made me so happy. i have been basically on cloud nine since i stopped that crazy “diet” and i feel a little guilty about eating 2 deep dish pepperoni, bacon and ground beef slices last night at 10:30 after work but i honestly think the joy i got from those slices far outweighed the little bit of guilt. i cannot describe with words the joy i get from eating pizza. it’s impossible. it’s something that makes me so happy and warm inside. it’s something that makes me want to hum and smile and grunt and moan. i have been spoiled by eating. i always have all the food i ever need around me all the time and i think it’s gluttony, but i’m addicted to food. i love lays regular potato chips. i love peanuts. i love milk and chocolate and bread. oh i think i love bread more than any other edible thing there is. i dream about loaves. i make some incredible loaves. i make loaves of chocolate chip banana bread pretty dang often. all moist and thick and heavy and just screaming for a large glass of milk. i make white bread loaves. crispy crust on the outside and soft and spongy on the inside. warm with butter. i think a slice of toast is one of the best things ever invented. or a piece of chocolate. giving up food those 2 days a week was getting to me. i lot 5 or 6 pounds in 2 months but as much as i tried, i could not seem to feel that the sacrifice justified the loss. so i am eating 7 days a week again. i am eating 3 meals a day. i am going to go back to being the healthy, obese, pizza, bread and chocolate loving fool i am. i just picked up new t-shirts this week, on the front is a slice of pizza with cheese melting down the sides…. it says, “you are what you eat.” and the back is like a sport jersey and says “SATCHEL” across the shoulder and the number 01. a customer drew the design. i am what i eat. i am a pizza. i am a big dough boy. i’m okay with that. i don’t get sick. i sleep 5 hours a night. i feel good. if i died tomorrow you should not feel sorry for me. i have lived life as fully as i wanted. i have enjoyed my days. i do not regret the beers, the cakes, cookies, the breads and pizzas. in fact, i would argue that these elements make my life more wonderful and more special and make me more lucky and blessed. do you see how good i am at taking my failure at dieting and making it sound wonderful?? i do not like to fail at things, but i also am quite torn between the idea of enjoying food as one of my greatest pleasures and succumbing to the modern day pressure of being healthy and fit. it’s the kids that bring on the tension between the two. if i were living only for myself there would be no big dilemma, but now with these kids that i love so much and so deeply, there is a part of me that wants to do the things that will extend my life to be able to witness their lives as long as possible here on earth. the ultimate conflict is the personal desire to enjoy my life fully as an artist and lover of the intensity of the moment, and the more selfless desire to sacrifice my own cravings for the potential greater good of being a father around for a long time. but we all know there are no guarantees. i might exercise and eat better, lose weight and still die of cancer next year. or i could struggle and fight and lose weight and live a long time and take my grand kids fishing and see them grow up and get married and take over the family business….. if we knew what was ahead we would be so much better at making our daily decisions. an older relative of mine said recently, “if i knew i would live this long i would have taken better care of myself.” while this may be a cliche i had never heard it before. soon after he said it i heard the same thing from another older person…. and so i am at a place today where i am in the middle of these decisions. i’m old enough and boring enough to be at a place where i can think about my habits and my goals and directions.
i struggle. part of me is still the young kid who thinks he is invincible and wants to eat pizza and drink milkshakes every day. and part of me sees the wisdom in trying to change my habits to eating less and eating more vegetables and less chocolate and making time for daily exercise. it’s not like anyone these days doesn’t know that junk food is bad for you and exercise good for you. i am daily and hourly struggling to make better decisions. sometimes i win. sometimes i lose. sometimes i care. sometimes i don’t give a damn.

there is no time to talk about gatornationals and what that is and how it affects my business. there is no time to talk about my night at work and how i loved it and how one guy was whistling amazing grace until another guy got mad and how i was affected by that exchange….. there is no time to talk about my love of my job, my love of my employees, my love of my customers. there is no time to talk about the wine tasting that i have been caught up in, the 3 days in a row of wine tasting this week, the up and coming new wine list and the love/hate relationship i have with wine tasting. no time to tell you about the train, how much harder the small train is than the huge plane. no time to talk about t-shirts and the insatiable apatite i have for t-shirts, and the newest ones and the ones coming up. there is no time because it is 12:50 and i wake up every fucking morning at 5 am. regardless of when i go to bed. regardless of the day of the week. and regardless of how bad i need sleep or want sleep or any of that. this morning it was 5:12. yesterday it was 5:00 sharp. i have been sleeping really soundly from midnight to 5 so i am pleased with that. i cannot complain that i wake up at 2 and 3 or toss and turn…. nope. but once that 5 o’clock rolls around i am not falling back asleep. it’s weird. i want to tell you about my dad. i want to tell you about when he woke up and about what i remember of his sleep pattern. i want to delve into this whole sleep cycle more, and talk about my silly theories and observances. but when i say there is no time it is because it is nearly 1 am. i will wake up early. i will be pissed that i am awake and want to go back to sleep very badly and sleep will not come. i know a lot about my sleep now because – well – it is a daily thing i am paying a lot of attention to. i find it fascinating. fascinating. the way i can sleep 5 hours and my wife can sleep 10. the fact that i can be so tired, yet not sleep. anxiety. oh i do not have the time to get into it all. maybe next time, maybe tomorrow. maybe next week.

i could write all night. one day i will. but not this time because it was so intense tonight at work and tomorrow i will work longer hours and it will likely be even more intense. i know i have to be ready. i know, being 46 and so wise about time, that i cannot stay up all night writing and be on my game tomorrow also.
no. i will leave so much unsaid. i will save some stuff to write later. but the amazingest thing is that i COULD write all night. i seriously believe i could write until 5am, my normal waking time. i could write about pizza. my diet, my sleep, my restaurant, the intensity of my experience, the interactions i had with customers and employees (in a general and vague way so as not to be “tacky”)….
i could write about the mistakes we made tonight, the successes we had, about the invention we are working on to open a door with your foot. i could talk about the gators. i could talk about the landscaping i have been working on at home and at work, my stained glass project and my paintings. i could talk about jeff huffman’s predictions, about a curbless shower and the challenges it presents. i would talk about some other stiff i can’t even think of now because i am too tired. 2420 words. isn’t that my normal place of fatigue? i can’t even remember now because i am too fatigued… 2500 words. i could talk about the 2500 word limit i come up against. i could talk about a lot of dumb stuff but now it’s 1:22. and a long day ahead tomorrow. saturdays are the most intense. they are like taking all the other work days and pressing them into one. 2491 words now…. too many words . so many words. 2499……….

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my home screen image for you….

nacho

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foggy

it’s a foggy saturday morning. i was so excited with the prospect of “sleeping in” haha….. i’ve been getting up around 6:30 each morning since the school year started and saturday is no different. it usually takes me about a week or two over the summer to get to where i can sleep in until 7:30. but the good news is i was in bed early and so i enjoyed a long night’s sleep. we’re in the beginning of a long project here at home and so i like to get out there and get involved. i’ve been shoveling, moving spigots (light plumbing), moving stones, installing some railroad ties for erosion control, setting brick paths back that were disturbed, and basically getting my hands and knees dirty. fun work but yesterday my lower back started hurting pretty bad. it was those dang railroad ties that did it i think, maybe some digging, but oh, was i in pain around 10pm. i even had to leave work early because of the pain. this morning the pain has gone away some but i’ll definitely have to scale back my ambitions for the next few days. there’s a huge pile of rubble, mostly large chunks of an old slab, that i wanted to move to a new location and i’m not sure that would be wise.

the challenge of not eating a couple days a week is severe. i’m not a guy used to depression and taking a day off eating just sends me right to a depressed state. i’ve been trying this 5/2 “diet” for a couple months now and i really love it on the days when i eat normally. pizza, brownies, beer…. the usual stuff. but then a day of no food and i just get so down. i lost about 7 pounds it seems but it’s really hard to decide if it’s worth it. my wife wants me to just eat better regularly of course, and lose weight that way. i’ve never really been unhappy with my body or weight and so that makes it super hard to get motivated to avoid sweets and eat less than what i’m used to every day, or start calorie counting….i am much more suited to just taking a couple days of fasting and i’m sure i could enjoy being lighter and more agile, likely with better heart healthy numbers for the doc too. i guess in the end it will be my kids which are my inspiration for getting to a more healthy weight. i’m still unclear though, whether i’ll be able to keep up the diet FOREVER! see, it’s not a diet really but a lifestyle. if i stop doing it i would go back to gaining weight. when i think about the rest of my life and the TWO days a week of fasting, i find it impossible, but if i take it one day at a time, well, then i think about today– which is a day i can eat normally. so, i continue to take these things one day at a time and profusely apologize for talking about such personal and mind boring topics as my weight. it’s embarrassing really. honest to goodness i am a private person. i use facebook as a place to post things work related for the most part, and only occasionally do i get caught up in some moment that i feel the need to share it with my facebook friends on my personal page. recently i was so proud of my son for getting certified in power point, and so happy that he was in a middle school that does this sort of teaching, that i posted about that. but to think i would ever go online and talk about my diet, my aches and pains, my sleep habits…. please just kill me now. i think it happens because i like writing. i like sitting down to unload my thoughts and my feelings as an artist, and talking about the stupid shit is a way to get the wheels turning, get the machine warmed up. i hate writing for its literalness. i hate that my vocabulary is so limited and my topics so inane. at least in painting the abstraction obscures the result. but i just enjoy the writing. i enjoy the attempt to create something from nothing. i don’t write for other people but for my own sanity. with so many hours in the day, writing is an outlet that is always available and easy. like now for instance, the whole family is still asleep, the house is quiet. surfing the net is about as inspirational as watching tv. reading a book would be good but it’s just not something i find fun. i usually get super sleepy trying to read. writing flows pretty easily and wakes up my mind. i do have some drawing i want to do though, design a shirt for next months pinewood derby my friend puts on. and i should draw a new coffee mug too. there’s always something to draw.

so after boring you with talk of weight, back pain, and sleep, i will tell you the exciting news at work. the toy train track that is suspended above the gift shop is still a work in progress. we’ve had a customer, bob, coming out to try and get it working right and he’s spent 3 weeks there i think? cleaning, leveling, fixing things…. and we are getting closer to having it run. the train has fallen off the track more times than we can count and that just can’t happen while we are open for business. i don’t know why i had this silly idea to try and run a train over people’s heads and i was never into that sort of thing as a kid…. but bob has been ever so patient and our own maintenance guy pete has been helping and well, it’s just so much harder than i ever would have suspected. sometimes i wonder if it will ever actually work or if it will be one of the few ideas i was not able to materialize. like, i’d really love to mount a glass bottom boat 12 feet above the bocce court and have a suspended walkway between the treehouse, glass bottom boat, and airplane but i am too scared to try it. as much as i think i could do it successfully and safely, i also think i would stress myself out for a long time and potentially have the city codes on my case. no, i have some ideas that just need to stay as ideas. but the train is one i think we can pull off.

i’m moving on to one of my other past times now. i’ll start with eating some breakfast, and move on to drawing that t-shirt, and maybe even get into the studio and work on stained glass. if i’m lucky i can get in a few hours of projects here at home before going in for an 8 hour shift at the pizza factory.

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love and hate

i think last time i left i was going to tell you about the catering tip thing. so, we have a custom POS that we use to take orders and such. we made it work just for us – across the board; from the gift shop sales to catering to at the table phone ordering. the catering was getting tricky because we included a 10% gratuity for the crew plus delivery fee. well, we don’t tax or tip on delivery amount and so as we started backing all these numbers out of the total it got confusing from the programming perspective. we had all sorts of complicated equations that did not always work. we were working on fixing these bugs and then i realized how much easier it would be to make the catering prices lower and just add delivery if it was to be delivered, and add gratuity. about the same time the catering boss starting using google forms to compile all the info we need for a successful catering. a customer would say, “we need catering for 50″ and we’d say “when” and they would say “friday” and we’d say “what time?” and these emails might go back and forth 20 times. we might ask a question they would forget to answer. anyway, the form became a great tool because we could send them the form and we would get all the info at once. time, date, how many, dietary restrictions, do they need paper plates, etc…. and then i realized, “hey, let’s let the customer pick the gratuity.” we require 10% on these because it stresses the kitchen and in house food as we prepare and the tip helps compensate the extra work. at times we are catering for 50 or 100 people! but with the forms we were able to let the customer pick the gratuity amount. 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 20%: and guess what? given the choice, most give more! the average is 16 but some give 20%! this is so awesome. we were able to secure more money for or crew just by asking. and the crazy part is that the customer picks the amount before we have even delivered the service. now, here’s the even crazier part…. in the years we have been catering, it seems every customer has been super happy. there’s a small criticism here and there, but the overwhelming response is people LOVE the catering… we have so many repeat customers it’s silly. the only complaints i can remember are there was not enough broccoli on the pie and there was too much salad….. almost every ‘after catering’ response we get is glowing. so, this is exciting news. we constantly make catering more efficient, we give better service, and now we are getting bigger tips for the employees. also there was only once, way back in the beginning, when we were late, and that was my fault. i had taken the order and forgotten about it, so when they showed up i was devastated. i sent them out and said i would deliver and by the time i arrived the food was still on time and they got an incredible deal. so, needless to say, i am proud of our catering and our crew and our efficiency. while we serve hundreds of pies each day, we do it efficiently and with few mistakes.

[after writing this blog i heard this npr story ]

which brings me to the haters. ha. there will always be haters of course. it’s a fact of life. the bigger and more popular we become the more the haters gonna hate. there’s one facebook person that likes to comment satchel’s hate whenever possible. they wrote something on a reggae shack post and omar removed it. they then commented about that. then the same person wrote something on an online food reviewer post. this is just one recent example but there are so many out there to find. it’s one of those things that is a fact that comes with popularity but it still makes me a bit sad. sad that as hard as i try i cannot please everyone. sad that this anonymous person is so mad at us and we are trying so hard to please our customers, to make a nice dining experience, to take care of our employees. i know that what i’ve created is special but i am sad that there will be folks who still hate us. they hate us because other people love us so much. do they hate us because they hate our pizza so much? i don’t know. seems far fetched. not far fetched that someone would not like our pizza, but that their dislike of it would lead them to online ranting and hatred. i just don’t get these folks. don’t know that i ever will.

it’s funny but i would really love to live without my phone. i am on my phone a lot. i answer emails immediately so they don’t pile up. i talk on the phone a lot. i post on the various social pages and check back on the progress and comments. a few years ago i was still trying to hold back from getting a smart phone and even waited a long time to join facebook and twitter, or at least i felt like i waited a long time. i don’t want to be on my phone but it’s now become a habit. i check it too much. maybe there’s an app that can help me, ha. maybe i can track how much i am on my phone and consciously try to power down. it says a lot that i need an app to track my phone usage. just more time on the phone. i’m already an anxious person and the phone heightens my anxiety. it’s a habit i would love to learn to change. maybe i could figure out a clever way to dial it down? remove myself from the online conversation… go back to the quiet, peaceful, and hermit like existence that i lived before i opened a restaurant. would we be so much slower if i stopped posting on facebook and twitter and instagram? if we were would it matter? there is part of me that enjoys the social aspect, i mean, that’s why i have a restaurant. i like making pies and art and chatting with folks. but the online presence is different. maybe i’m just bummed because of the haters out there? it is so nice to be a guy no one knows. nice to be so insignificant that there are no haters. nice to just lean on the comfort of family and close friends. when i see the online haters, and usually it’s by accident because i stopped looking at reviews, when i see their hatred oozing like swamp mud from between my toes, it makes my heart hurt. it makes me depressed. it makes me mad and upset and confused. it’s the artists in me that gets so emotional. i just want to retreat to my own quiet corner and disappear for a while. try and shake the hate.

that’s the main thing. i am not some chef who started a restaurant. i am an artist who started a pizza joint. i probably should have been a graphic designer or advertiser as making logos and designing a brand are some of my favorite things to do. i never cook at home. sure, i bake cookies and cakes and stuff but i don’t cook. i just got lucky because i learned the pizza trade from working in a few places. i learned what worked and what didn’t. then i took my knowledge to make pizza but i used my artistic talents to make the restaurant grow. i put my heart and soul into the atmosphere. i will never try and pretend i am some great chef. i’m just a guy who got lucky with the right place at the right time and some artistic and management skills to make it work. the folks who hate us, they just don’t know us. they hate based on a perception that is flawed. i honestly do not want to spend my time worrying about the haters but i don’t want to check my email every half hour either. there are things that are just in my nature as an artist, and things in my nature as an obsessive person. i will get past it. but i will always sorta wish i could go through my life without being exposed to the haters. and the internet is where they live mostly. so, if i was able to avoid the internet, i could likely be a lot more productive and even more positive. these are the goals i am hoping to achieve: more positive production. my battery is about dead. out.

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i’m wrong

everybody around me seems to be doing the same thing as me…. working really hard to stay focused and power through being slammed. all the while in a good mood with friendly banter. there is something like magic about that sort of kitchen groove, front of house too, lightnin’ salvage and also the thing as a whole… i am not making pizzas better than the next guy. i may love it more (and i may not?) but he’s trying just as hard as he or she can try too. i see that so clearly now. i started thinking maybe i had misunderstood my interpretation of my work environment. like i made my pizza with more focus or something and so my pizza was the best. that’s silly. we all make good, better, and the best pizza ever—-all the time. actually, the guys at satchel’s get to make those pies more than me. there are plenty of others that enjoy it as much as i do, and i get to work with them and watch them get better. and tonight i realized that most of these kitchen folks i work with are just as dedicated, just as passionate, and just as eager as i am to be the best at what they do. that is an exciting revelation. ah, and honestly, some are better than me. i am not the best at ovens or salad station. my employees are more practiced than me these days. i cannot be the best at everything. i am not the best at serving either.

i am curious if i could figure out how to post photos again here. it’s been so long and the program changes so often and i don’t want to spend the next 30 minutes…- d’oh, but that means i have to switch to the macbook. but i will try…

P3

dish

ovens

so here is another reason i stopped posting pictures. easy to see it here. no matter what i do on my document screen where i write this, whether i put the text way down, or space out the text, or space out the images…. no matter how i try to change all that, it always crams my text over here so i’m not able to talk about each picture separately. obviously it’s that i don’t know how to work the platform, wordpress.org, but i’ve spent so many wasted hours trying to learn how to reformat the pictures to no avail.

the first one is P3. that’s just what we call the station. since it’s looks through to the P1 and P2 positions, you can see through to the ovens.

the second one is dish of course. we invented a system of plastic rods that separate the cutting boards so they can dry properly. was it the day manager that came up with the idea? it’s been so long i forgot. anyway, i worked so many nights at a dish pit like this and this photo has a lot of meaning for me.

and the ovens. the left two we’ve had since we opened and the right two we got after the fire. work horses. they bake up some pies and zones.

anyway, i worked late. i was the last one there and so i did a walk through of the kitchen. it’s so good to check up on the cleanliness because they do such a good job. they do it every night and every night it looks so good. i couldn’t help but take a few pictures.

prep:bake

museum

lightnin salvage enterprises

prep and bake area. this is just one of three similar stack of dough trays waiting to be filled on tuesday.

if i fill in some text here it might push the description of the next picture down a bit….

the museum. john really has an eye for these details.

and i have to fill in more text here because i have a description of the last picture that is further down. i have to keep saving and checking back to the preview to see how much i have to write here. by now you must think i’m computer illiterate. i dare you to start a wordpress.org blog, not wordpress.COM< that's different, no .ORG. even i do not know what this means... but after checking i see i need ten more words here.

the junk museum sign. john just cleaned it up some yesterday. quite enchanting thing to stumble upon at night.

there was a huge rush before the gator basketball game this afternoon. there was a huger rush after the basketball game. then there was the hugest rush at closing time when we had a late night party come. hugest mostly because they were all at once, and tons of awesome kids, and we were all so tired from our long week. lots of people work doubles on saturdays. it’s sort of fun in a weird way. most of the people really like the all day adrenaline rush and the feeling of kicking ass and taking names through it all. the machine is well oiled and when it’s good it’s oh so good.

so many faces. smiles. eyes. conversations. i met calvin. #33 on the chicago bears and was in the super bowl in 1985. i got at least 3 hugs i can remember, maybe more. and i’m not a hugger! do i even mention today’s mistakes? do i now spoil the mood and tell you the couple times that a guitar string broke or the sound system belched? (metaphors for the real problems) no. not this time. i am seriously thinking about turning over a new leaf where i just focus on the positive and try to quickly forget about the hiccups. it’s getting too focused on those details that make it work and also make it hurt.

i could write all night. but i know that is not a good idea. i’m sure i’ve already said something stupid i will regret and writing all night would magnify that. but i will say this last thing. funny how i forgot that it’s not the posting of the photos that is so hard to do, but it’s the fact that i have to do them on a cursor glitchy lemon computer that is why i gave up that habit. and also the way the blog site crams my words up beside the photos… should i just resize the photos? but how would i even know what size? and shouldn’t the program size them right automatically? how is it that i can run a restaurant successfully but i cannot decipher the wordpress.org situation?

ah, but i can. i can kill 2 birds with one stone. i can stop posting pictures and write on a non-lemon computer at the same time. BAM! thank you chrome book. photos are for facebook.
i don’t want to kill birds though. i like birds.

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new post

i wrote a long post the other day but it’s sitting as a draft. i’m really excited about this new app idea i have (which is not related to the food industry) and i spilled all the details in that blog. then i thought,”maybe i will find a way to make this idea happen and i should keep quiet about it a bit longer…” and then my sister called me and told me that she had a friend she thought could write the app. so, now we are in discussions to make this a reality and while it will be a long hard road like all new businesses, i am glad that i did not tell you the idea just yet. not that anyone reading this would jump up and steal my idea but just that why not keep my great idea quiet until i have something to show? it’s an idea i think is really good and really good ideas don’t happen every day so better to keep it a secret for now.

i think i mentioned the crazy diet i am doing where i “fast” 2 days a week, except i get to eat 600 calories those days and so it’s not really fasting. and the days are separated in the week. anyway, it’s very hard to do. if i knew it would work i think it would be easier but i struggle and wonder if it will really work. why would i struggle through these 2 days each week of i actually don’t lose weight? well, today i had a breakthrough. when i weighed in mid january i was 257. obese. when i weighed today i was 248. still obese but the first time in a looong time i have broken into the 240′s. it made me feel like it was working. i would have to get to 235 to get out of the obese category and into the overweight category and so for now that’s my goal. i can’t be sure i will make it because i struggle so much through these days without eating much but i really love the diet on days like today when i eat normally. i eat pizza, cookies, drink beer, whatever i usually do. that’s what i love about this diet. i get 5 days of super normal eating. anyway, i should not be telling you about any of this at all but i am sharing this success because well… i guess it’s my struggle to fight obesity and i still find so much weight in that word (no pun intended actually.) when people see me they would not think obese. i’m not skinny but i don’t seem obese either. obese people are those huge people right? no. this is the surprising thing to me. i look around and knowing i am obese by 20 pounds i can see obese folks everywhere! i’m still a little in shock by the chart and think it may be time for the powers that be to tweak it for our modern day lifestyle, but if we go by the charts out there then so many people are obese it’s insane! i think my complete disbelief of the chart and trying to come to terms with my own obesity is why i talk about it here. it’s a topic i find fascinating. i am actually okay with my body and my weight but i do feel like losing weight would feel better and help me live to see more of my kids lives. and i am also trying to think about my weight as unhealthy, something that i haven’t been able to agree with until recently. even now i am only slightly convinced that i am unhealthy. i feel really healthy and i NEVER get sick. i can’t remember the last time i got sick. years and years ago. most of the time i feel really good.

tonight i made pizzas because someone called in sick and we didn’t have anyone who could cover that wouldn’t be on expensive overtime. (that’s overtime where one guy would make over $25 an hour plus tip….) we obviously need to hire someone if one person sick can cause this situation, but the thing is, i LOVE making pizzas. i get in the kitchen and make pies every week when we get slammed but i might only be in there making food for 45 minutes a night during the busiest times and working the whole shift at a station is different. it;s way more fun for me. i love to think about each pie and how to top it just right. i really get way into it and am quite fast, probably the fastest of anyone there. so, i enjoy making pies twice as fast as others and i enjoy them being so perfect. i enjoy thinking about the people who will enjoy the pie and i just like the whole thing. anyway, i got a break and went to a table to see how it was, since i knew i had made their pie, and they said it was the best pie they ever had at satchel’s. that’s the thing. i knew how good it would be. i made it. it was done just right. somehow, the love and care i put into it comes across. that’s what made us so busy from the beginning. in a way i feel a little sad because i know it’s nearly impossible to teach folks to truly love and enjoy each and every pizza they make, but i try. and the pizzas they make look good for sure. but why is it then that the pie i made tonight is the best one they ever had? they eat there twice a week? there is a small edge to making each pie with complete concentration and love. saucing and cheesing it to perfection. there is something in it that cannot be taught. i talk about it all the time. i try and convey to the employees the idea of taking pride in everything they do. but i wonder how much falls on deaf ears? i wonder if i am able to teach folks to love what they do? i can teach them the skills to make good pies, to serve tables properly, to dress salads correctly, but teaching them to enjoy their work, to breathe deeply, to consider the people we serve as we serve them…. these things are more esoteric, abstract, difficult to teach.

i’ve been quite anxious lately. i can’t sleep much. i sleep 4-6 hours a night and
usually less than 6. i want to sleep 10. 8 would be great. i’d give anything to sleep and sleep but i just can’t do it. today i tried to nap for a bit because i was in bed after 1am and up about 5. i laid down and felt like i would never sleep but soon drifted off. then BAM! i woke up with a start, maybe 5 minutes after falling asleep. i woke up thinking i was late for something, missing something. but i was not. i had nowhere to be. i had no tight schedule. but i woke up like i had forgotten to catch a flight or pick up my kid from school or something. it was weird. my heart was racing then and there was no sleep to be found. the anxiety may just be the many things i am eager to do. i have paintings to create, a stained glass window on my table to finish, a mobile i want to make, a mural i am nearly done with, another mosaic i want to start, an app in development, a coffee mug to draw, some new t-shirts to get to the printer, a train at LSE very close to being operational, and all the normal work stuff like the lists and website and bumper stickers and caterings and employee schedules and dough proofing…. my mind races a lot. i have so much i want to get accomplished.

i keep thinking about the SEC bake off too. what pizza will i make? some days i think i have to make a deep dish. but that requires preparing the deep dish dough in the pans at the hotel and then transporting them to bake off. they need 4-6 hours of sitting out. sometimes i think i’ll just make a cheese pizza. so simple and our dough and sauce are good enough to win alone. i have such a full calendar too. i have several speaking engagements coming up. my family will go to the beach for spring break but we are so busy that week at satchel’s i wonder how i will ever get away? we are enjoying a growth spurt right now and this requires me to be at work more, monitoring it all. my kids are growing so fast and asking so many questions. i’ve even had to have some birds and bees talk with my boy since he’s 12 now. these are exciting times. and we are having work done on our house. we are adding on and every day new things are happening. by next week we’ll have the second story floor on. plus the weather is getting so springtime like. that alone makes me giddy. AND i don’t have allergies so far this year. i believe it has to do with my alternative allergy therapy i am on but no time for that discussion now. the point is that there is never a dull moment. there are hard moments when i am not eating, or when work is especially taxing on my brain…. but they are not dull moments. it is full time action packed life going on. quite wonderful really. intense and wonderful.

i had something i wanted to expound on but now i can’t remember what it was…. i remember earlier today thinking of a topic that would be so fun to write about and now i am drawing a blank. hmmm.

well, it’s already saturday and my GM is out of town and my baker is sick which means i’ll be getting my mom to bake and working lunch and dinner and all of that is happening in less than 12 hours now. its 12;15am, so no time for me to remember the thing i wanted to write about AND write about it. i’ll give you a break too. it must be a little like torture reading my rambling posts…. when will he ever shut up? why is he always talking about the things he doesn’t have time to talk about? remember, always remember this: you are here of your own free will. nobody makes you follow this nonsense. but i can’t wait to tell you about my new app. you will want to get it.

oh! ha. i remember now! it’s the catering gratuity! that’s the thing i wanted to tell you dear beleaguered blog reader… i want to tell you about a success i had, an idea that worked out for the employees. about the generosity of folks when you give them the opportunity to be generous. oh, it’s good. i hope i remember to tell you this story soon.

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no title

i left my chrome book at work so i am forced to type this on my lame lemon of a mac book. this will likely make my writing shorter though, so there is the silver lining for readers.

finally made it to reggae shack today. weird that it took me that long. i remember going when they very first opened and seeing the menu of oxtail, goat, and jerk chicken, and then not getting anything because – i don’t know why, those aren’t things i usually eat i guess. when i was a kid i was one of those kids that ate hardly anything. thanksgiving dinner i would put some white meat and rolls on my plate and that was it. maybe some rice. i would eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. but i was never a good eater. now, as an adult, i have gotten only slightly better. i finally added onions and green peppers to my pizza in the last few years and loved it but i never had a salad until i was 33, and there’s lots of foods i have never tried. i still don’t eat seafood. just never liked it. anyway, i remember that day at the reggae shack but it’s just so strange i never went back. i definitely get stuck in my routine and eat at the same spots. i hit hogans once a week, davids bar-b-q is down the street so i go there once a week. my wife and i go to stubbies a lot, or maybe dragonfly or outback. and i get to gyro plus when i can, and caribbean spice. i’ve been going to those last two places for as long as i can remember. i was going to caribbean spice when the special was less than $2. and gyro plus when they were on south 13th. i do like to try as many restaurants as i can and i’ve been to emiliano’s, harry’s, vello’s. i’ve been to blue gill, mildred’s, marks. i’ve been to mi apa, bistro 1245, bistro to go, and adam’s ribs. i’ve been to almost every restaurant once but somehow i just missed the reggae shack. heck, i’ve been to southern charm at least a half dozen times. i asked omar today how long the reggae shack has been there and it’s been ten years! anyway, today i had a nice lunch there. i got the caribbean chicken and it was very tasty. the place was well staffed and packed. i’ll be going back again but still not sure if i am ready for oxtail or goat. i don’t even eat chicken very often to be honest. my palate is still similar to what it was when i was a kid. i am still slow to try new things.

going back to the podcast thing for a minute, i should say that while i like the ones with stories, like the moth, or this american life, or snap judgement… while i like those a lot, i think the reason the slate one is my favorite right now is the people. since it’s the same 3 people talking each week i feel like i get to know them. some of the time they talk about really boring stuff or something i am not interested in, and sometimes they even just get frustrating because WHO CARES about the political predictions game? but what i do like is their personalities and interactions. emily bazelon often talks about some court case or legal issue and i find her so smart. they are all 3 incredibly articulate. john dickerson amazes me at how he can spew out a monologue and be so good at expressing himself. anyway, it’s them i like more than the subject matter. i enjoy following politics, but i mostly like hearing them banter.

freakonomics is always quite good too. they actually have a movie on netflix which i found really good. those guys are really smart too. i have a thing for smart people. i like to hear what they say and think. i feel like i get smarter when i listen to smart people.

it was a long day. i went in to work at 7:30am. i returned some tomatoes that weren’t ripe enough. i rolled dough. i talked about donations. i painted some on a mural out back. i ordered some new forks and knives. i researched a machine for rounding dough balls, called a rounder, although i think it should be called a baller.
i picked up my daughter and then was home for a bit and then back meeting with some guys making a video about the gainesville restaurant scene, making sure the dough is proofing right, talking to customers, making pizzas, ordering some new pizza pans online (which i should have ordered earlier when i ordered the silverware…)
because i woke up at 5am, and was at work at 7:30, and because i got home after 9pm, it just seemed like a looong drawn out day. i don’t know. my eyes are tired.

i gotta get some good rest for the long weekend ahead. i was gonna talk some about this pizza competition i am going to in mississippi in april but i’m not gonna do it. i’ll wait till i have my good computer. apple sold me a lemon and won’t make it right. i wonder if i will get over it? i may just trade in my iphone for a google phone soon. for a guy who doesn’t hold grudges and tries to put the past behind me quickly, i am still pretty frustrated with apple these days. if they make a faulty product they should make good. but after sending it back 5 times i gave up, and now they say it’s too late. whatever. i won’t be buying another apple product if i can help it. go google. but seriously, why can’t gmail make their contact list better? i still haven’t figured out how to add a contact on my phone in gmail. and the contacts i tried to import did not import properly. i’m in limbo here. mad at apple and still waiting for google to improve. and i am definitely not ready to take on windows 8. what i’d really like to do is to get rid of every electronic device i own and live like it’s 1985. i’d keep the land line.

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podcasts

anyone who knows me knows how much i love podcasts… even to the point of it being annoying. by that i mean, from the looks people have on their faces when i bring it up all the time, it seems like i am saying how i can’t get enough fiber in my diet or something. it’s like the enjoyment i am trying to express from my podcast obsession never seems to translate into a language anyone understands. well, 99% of the people anyway (podcasting reference there in case you missed it.)

so, while i could easily get into TMI about each podcast and why they are great, so-so, weird, or whatever, i’ll just say that my podcast list just got a lot longer and i am about to find myself with more incredible storytelling to listen to than the week will afford me. which is a good thing. it wasn’t that long ago i was running through my list each week and waiting for new stuff to come out, even listening to the not-so-smart “smart station” that was suggested to me by the app. but now i think i have rounded the corner to a place where there is just a wealth of good material there to listen to and no need to ever have to watch a bad netflix movie or be bored mowing the grass again.

so, i use an app called stitcher. for those not familiar – this paragraph is for you: you search for the podcast you want to subscribe to, you hit the plus sign at the bottom, and this adds the podcast to your “radio station,” or “favorites.”
by using the edit function i can move the podcasts up or down in the list so i can hear my favorite ones first and the ones that are sorta dry and semi-boring at the bottom of the list. in this way, i can always hear my newest and potentially “best” podcasts first and only get down to the so-so ones if i run out of the top shelf material. each time i go to the station i can start where i left off, or start over at the top, or anywhere i want to… and after each story is over it automatically starts the next one. every day, or every time i am ready, i can refresh all the content and get the newest stories. sometimes i miss really good material because i never got to a podcast episode and when i refresh, the newer episode comes for listening, leaving the old one behind somewhere hard to find… this is the only downside to the app. you see, before the app, back in the old days of early 2011, or 2010, i spent lots of time downloading the episodes into my itunes and deleting old episodes when i was done. by managing the episodes this way, i was able to easily see how many episodes i had not heard on a certain podcast and “catch up” with any certain podcast i had not had time to hear the previous week. (i realize this is getting confusing for you but bear with me anyway…) well, with the app the old episodes are all still there to hear anyway, but because there are now so many new ones every week, i often “miss” an episode of planet money or radiolab, where i once would have never missed an episode. but that’s ok, because like i said, there is a huge wealth of great stuff out there now.

which brings me to roman mars. that is a man’s name and he has a podcast that is pretty good. it’s called 99% invisible and it;s short and sweet and can be charming and interesting. however, the podcaster (also the host of the show) is named roman mars, and his voice can be one that you just fall out in love with, or one that sorta bugs you in a smug sounding way. he seems like a genuine good guy but also a sort of metro-sexual kind of dude. the kind of guy that wouldn;t hurt a fly, takes out the garbage on time, and gets super excited to go out to his garage and record his voice. sound familiar? (a bit of self deprecating humor there: replace “go out to the garage and record his voice” with “sit down at his chromebook and tell you all sorts of useless information.)

anyway, roman mars has a huge following like the reggae shack, but more on that later. roman goes to raise money for his podcasts and he gets like a million dollars in 5 minutes. actually, i am exaggerating, but i ‘think’ he did get over $350,000 which is incredible. i am happy for him. i think it’s great that a guy can do a little story thing each week and make a living and have some fame and all that; think ira glass of “this american life”, it’s like being the movie star of the podcasting world. but i digress.

so roman makes so much money he decides to start a new thing called “radiotopia” and that is, as far as i can tell without a lot of research, a fund to help small podcasts like his own, reach a larger audience. recently, being the podcast geek i am, i subscribed to most of these new radiotopia podcasts and just in the last few days have been listening to them while driving. wow. it’s been so refreshing to hear new perspectives and new stories and new ideas. i am really loving how rounded out my list is getting. thanks most recently to roman mars.

and that brings me to my list. i am excited enough about these podcasts to list for you here my station on stitcher. the ones at the top of the list are new and i have only heard one episode of many of them so i can;t vouch for there consistency of storytelling. but then i hit the npr news ones, and after that it switches to my regular list. i usually put new ones on top until i decide where they go in the list. this can take a month or so. then i slide them in place somewhere, before or after my top favorites, and in this way my station is always set up just how i like it. i want to point out that sometimes i put one podcast higher than another, not because i like it more, but because of it’s length or frequency. in other words, planet money may be higher than slate, not because i like it better, but because i get 2 or 3 planet money podcasts a week and in order to keep up i listen to it first. this is also true of the npr news stories. they work themselves to the top because they change every day and tend to be short. so i can knock them off and get a good chunk of news in, and then settle in for some appetizers before getting to the main course.
now that i have completely lost you, here is my list right now, subject to change very soon:

KCRW’s strangers
radio diaries podcast
benjamen walkers theory of everything
fugitive waves
homemade stories
npr 7am news summary
npr topics: story of the day
npr topics: business story of the day
life of the law
this american life
decode DC
npr: planet money
slate’s political gabfest (my current favorite for last year or so)
freakonomics radio
the moth podcast
99% invisible
radiolab from WNYC
the truth
npr: snap judgement
ted talks audio
pro publica podcast
frontline: audiocast/ PBS
motley fool money
APM: marketplace
npr: most emailed stories
npr topics: economy podcast

whew. that’s a lot of stuff. after snap judgement it can get sorta boring, except for most emailed stories which i should probably move up, but i also really enjoy a good frontline investigation or the interviews on motley fool money. i don;t buy and trade stocks and that’s what motley fool talks a lot about, but the team of guys who host the show are really funny and do a good job. they talk a lot about brands and what’s hot and not hot in the world of corporations, and i find it pretty informative. the interviews with authors or CEO’s of big companies can be really inspirational and helpful for me as a guy with a company to “brand.”
with corporations, as with politics, brand and image is HUGE.

i could talk a lot more about motley fool and even more about every podcast on this list, but that would REALLY bore you. but instead of reading books, i listen to podcasts. stitcher has stats. that’s how i know i started listening on stitcher in march of 2011. as i mentioned i was listening to podcasts way before that. but since 2011 stitcher tells me i have logged 635 hours, 34 minutes, and 3772 episodes. they may be a lot more than some and a lot less than others, i don;t know where i fall, but those are my stats, i don;t know the stats for all of stitcher. it would be interesting to find out if i am in the top 10% or the top 50%… i wonder where to get that info??

there was a time before all this podcasting that i would listen to rush limbaugh because he talked about current events and he was entertaining even if quite often annoying. thank GOD those days are long behind me. rush is a master of talking and i know a thing or two about talking. my family could talk circles around rush limbaugh. the craft of being able to talk 3 hours a day is quite noteworthy and well, newsworthy. that art and skill and craft is what has carried that poor fellow. but now that the floodgates of storytelling and talking has burst in the form of the podcast, & there is simply NO GOOD REASON to listen to that conservative talk radio blather unless one is simply a conservative tool and brainwashed robot. don’t get me wrong, rush can make a good point half the time, but it’s the other HALF THE TIME he makes an idiot of himself that is ridiculous. why waste my time on one poor son of a bitch who can talk the chrome off a trailer hitch, when i can listen to hundreds of wonderful stories about real people and amazing situations and open my world like a lotus flower?

for me it’s that simple. i love my music. i spent my young life collecting music i love. while friends might by drawn to pandora or similar music selection type engines, i am completely content hitting shuffle on my own 60 gigabytes of music. i spent a couple decades collecting and listening to those tunes. and music is so important for atmosphere at the restaurant and needs to be the right songs at the right volume all the time…. it’s imperative. and it’s always evolving with help form danny now and his selection process. and while at work i am always hearing my music in the background and in my subconscious…. but now as i get older i am much more interested in the new stories, the incredible history lessons, and the political discourse of the always evolving world of podcasts. i feel as if i am always learning something new and thinking of something in a way i hadn;t thought of before. strangely enough, these voices of the podcasts become my everyday friends and counselors, they shape my opinions and directions. they instruct, unveil and elaborate. they shine light on. they uncover. they illuminate. these things, these words i just used to explain what the podcasts do for me, they flew onto the page. they were easy to write and are easy to defend. the podcasts for me are like good books to the avid reader. like good episides of flight of the conchords. like good movies and good art.

i’m sure there are a few great podcasts out there i have not yet discovered, and quite possibly just ones i discovered briefly and gave up on for whatever strange reason….. and some on my list now may be gone in a month or so. there was a period before stitcher when i did not always go get radiolab, for instance. i was tired of those guys making every damn thing sound like it was the most important thing in the world when it was obviously NOT. planet money was on the VERY TOP of the list for a long time when i had a crush on hannah choffe walt’s voice and then they went through such intense host changes seemingly every month that i grew tired of their ping pong popcorn stories. they would get on a roll and then they would digress into stupid shit for months on end with a new host every week. what happened to the guy from last week? did he get a promotion? why is this intern now the main guy talking? i don’t even like his personality? oh, and there;s the good one again, and now some new hire this week?

each podcast has it’s ups and downs. it amazes me they can put out stories every week or even more often. of course they can;t all be mind blowing.

i often dream of doing my own podcast. i wonder how often i could do one and what i could do them about. i have ideas of course. i have grand visions as always. i dream of doing even one. i know it;s a possibility of something i could one day tackle. like making sodas. i thought about for so long and finally got tired of thinking about it.

which brings me to reggae shack. and my need to do something besides write in my blog. at work i say or think all the time…”we could really get some prep done if it weren;t for all these customers…” it’s a joke. hopefully a joke you understand…

well, ” i could really get some painting done of it werent for this stupid blog. ” i don;t know if that really relates to the work statement or not but lately i feel like i am wasting my time here when i should be doing something i’m better at, like painting and collage. but it is 54 degrees out there right now and that means my studio is 53. too cold for this warm blooded orange loving motley fool.

reggae shack has some serious fans. especially on twitter. i am constantly seeing re-tweets by reggae shack from it;s twitter followers. people are crazy for the reggae shack. it makes me sorta incredulous that i don;t go there myself. i am so stuck in my ways i always go to the same places…. hogans, davids, carribean spice, and on occasion gyro plus. i know i should go to reggae shack – i know.
i can;t even understand why i don;t. this week! this week for sure i will get there. because their fans are rabid. because i like omar the owner. because i just get stuck in my regular places and never added them to the route. i don;t know why.

i am always so tired at 2500 words. i just noticed this recently as i started getting fatigued and looked to see how many words i am at. and every time it seems to be about 2500. it’s like how i wake up every damn morning about 5 o’clock. i look at the clock and it seems like it always about 5 am. there are other times too like 6:10. i feel like i always see the clock within a few minutes of 6:10.

well now i am nearly to 2600 words. ridiculous. that’s just too many words, too much nonsense. am i the rush limbaugh of the blogosphere? half of it with something to say and half just to hear myself talk? don’t answer that.

somebody comment please. someone please test a comment and let me see how and if it works. someone tell me you love podcasts or you never listened to one in your life. someone tell me rush limbaugh is your idol. someone tell me that roman mars is your favorite radio voice. tell me i talk too much. tell me something.
or- forget it. navigate to a new page and forget i ever explained stitcher in detail. forget i ever mentioned reggae shack, food truck x, online reviewer guy, and rush limbaugh. forget the image you have in your head of jean claude. forget you ever ate a pizza. forget you know more about me than i know about you.

just curious.

i will write to sticther and ask them where i fall in the stitcher family of listeners? i would guess i am in the top 35%. i listen more than 65% of folks on stitcher and less than 35%. that’s my guess. i don;t think they will even answer my request.

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posting daily now?

well…. i have been on a roll so i guess i should keep it going. i’ve told you how it went last night and how i expected a fresh great start today. well, it was a good day and in some ways better than yesterday but wow. we have been just getting busier and busier and now it seems like i should have seen this coming somehow but i didn’t. yes, we pulled ALL the dough out at 7 this morning so we wouldn;t have the proofing problems we had yesterday but it just isn;t so simple…

here’s the thing: pizza dough needs to be a day or two or three old to be at its best. it needs proper time to proof and expand. when it’s just right the dough rises nicely, bubbles a lot. but we are so busy on fridays and saturdays that it’s hard to keep enough proofed dough happening, especially when the weather is cold like is has been. also, we have been getting busier and busier lately so it’s been creeping up on us. today was something i never could have expected. we just were SLAMMED all day. at 5 pm i went to rainbow produce and bought MORE apples, more mushrooms, more basil, more tomatoes, and more green peppers. we were so busy at lunch that we were running out of things. on saturday we are making dough but lots of it is reserved as “tuesday dough.” it sits in the walk-in and proofs up perfectly for use on tuesday. we are usually making dough a day or two ahead because that makes the perfect dough. but tonight at 5pm we had all the dough pulled to proof and i was thinking it would not be enough to get us through the night. about 6pm i pulled some of tuesdays dough hoping i could proof it enough in case we needed it. by 6:45 i was pulling more of tuesday dough for saturday night, and by 7:30 i was still pulling even more dough but worried it would never proof up fast enough. by 8pm i just pulled all the dough out of the walk-in. i have never seen us fly through as much dough in my 11 years. we sold more pizzas today then ever before and i guess it;s just the sunny weather and the fact that we are still getting new customers and we are still getting new repeat customers, and we are just getting more customers as we get more efficient and faster. over 600 pizzas and over 100 calzones…. it was insane. 10 of us in the kitchen and we all ran ragged and could not keep up…. i’ve never seen anything like it. while it was not our busiest day ever, it was probably in the top 3. the dough was just not ready. it was flat, not bubbling enough, not cooking right…. i was having such a stressful time about 7pm…. “do i just turn people away and say we don;t have dough ready? or do i serve the dough that is not proofed properly?” i don;t know!!! about 8:30 i got a terrible aura. an aura is a migraine headache that screws up my vision. i see wavy colorful lines. i can;t focus on things. it’s awful. the stress had gotten to me. i was trying so hard to manage the kitchen insanity and had been working like mad for over 7 hours, and the aura happened as a result. i had done everything i knew to do, i had pulled ALL the dough i thought we would use for the day and realized by 6pm it would never be enough. by 7pm i was using dough made the same day and by 8:30 i realized that all the dough was AGAIN not ready for prime time. turn people away or give them a sub-par product? this dilemma brought on the migraine. and believe me, it’s not the money that motivates me, it’s the question of which does more harm? turning people away on a saturday night certainly makes people upset. making a pizza that has a less than perfect dough upsets them less, at least i thought it would. walking around a couple times it seemed everyone was happy. i even had to wonder how many of them even realized the dough was not nearly as good as usual? i spent maybe 1% of my day in the dining room and 99% in the kitchen. most saturdays would be 50/50, or even up to 75% dining room and 25% kitchen. but tonight i was just so stressed and working with the pizza makers to get all the food out as efficiently as we could. the poor chap that takes every ticket off the printer also calls the takeout times and stretches EVERY dough. his job is so difficult. if there are a load of takeout pies, and pies from LSE, and in house pies (which there always are loads of each) the fellow has to figure out when to make which pie. in house is top priority because they’ve been waiting for a table. LSE is next because they are on site. phone orders last because they are home chillin’. but organizing the 3 groups as the printer is non stop scrolling out the orders is nearly the biggest challenge of the place. maybe the oven is the only one more challenging, or the dishwasher, or the salad maker, or the host… or the server….you see what i mean? everybody’s job is crazy when we are that busy. my job is to make sure everything is happening as it should. my job is crazy hard too…. i had to shred more cheese because we ran out, cut tomatoes, cut basil, stretch dough, make pies, run to LSE, bus tables, answer the phone…..

but the guy on P3… wait, let me backup, let me eplain:
there is a guy making pizzas by the oven, P1. there is another guy making pies next to him P2. there is the guy stretching all the dough and taking the tickets off the printer, P3, and that’s how the thing evolved for us. but later we added ANOTHER pizza maker who we call P4. and then there is the oven position. there are TWO expediters who are the guys checking and running the food. there is ONE salad maker who is totally bad ass because making every salad in a timely manner is practically impossible. and there is a dishwasher who has to be one of the most amazing people on the planet. and then there is me, helping P3 because he is still somewhat new to the position and the job is highly stressful. he and i are stretching dough, deciding which ticket gets bumped, deciding how long it will take for that takeout pie, and also filling up all the toppings for the pizza makers. they call for “meatballs, roasted reds, tomatoes and garlic” and P3 has to fill all those containers and pass them over. the tomatoes may need to be diced and the garlic is always fresh so it will need to be minced. they may need cheese backups, boxes folded, any number of the 30+ toppings, or just water to drink. it’s non-stop action. no time to eat. no time to think. no time to breathe.

next week all the problems will be solved. ha.
not only will we make all the empty trays of dough on thursdays and fridays (for friday and saturdays) but we will RE-CLAIM dough trays to make 6 extra batches of dough. you see, currently the prep guys come in and gather all the empty trays to fill them. by the time they are done it is 2 or 3 o’clock and there are maybe 20 empty dough trays by then that they ignore until the next day…. well, no longer. now they will fill all the empties there when they arrive and keep making dough in the empties that are ready before they leave. on top of this i may buy 15 more dough trays so that we are never in this under-proofed dough situation again. we’ve gone through these business expansion situations many times over the years and we add dough trays and add dough trays. but never has it happened so much from one week to the next. we nearly ran out of dough altogether tonight. that has never even come close to happening before. things just got serious and i plan to work an ‘extra’ 20 hours next week to ensure this doesn;t happen again.

as stressed as i get i also enjoy the challenge of it. i made a comment last night how we make 450 pies to food truck guys 45. well, tonight i actually counted the pizzas which i had never done before. we made over 600 pizzas and 100 calzones, or SEVEN HUNDRED doughs today! say what you will about our quality or “style points” but show me another place baking over 700 pizza/ calzones in a day. i’m sure they are out there, don;t get me wrong, but we do it in a 400 square foot kitchen and we have few mistakes.

yes, i would love to be making 50 pies and making each one more perfect. but instead we have chosen to keep up with demand and challenge what is possible. we are still having growing pains 11 years later. we are still making more and more pies and pushing the envelope on what we can manage with 10 guys in 400 square feet with 4 ovens. we had 3-5 pies waiting to go in those ovens most of the night. 6 ovens is what we really need but that is just not possible on our lot. we have maxed out our footprint and we are going to make do with the 4 ovens we have. i’ve got the hiccups now and it’s making me insane!!

it’s nearly 1:30am. i can;t stay up any longer. my armpits are chaffed from the long days work. my feet are aching like someone has been hitting them with hammers. . my eyes are drooping. i am so thankful for 2 days off. while i feel bad that we sent out lots of pizzas that were not up to our usual standard, i also feel proud that we all powered through it and with barely a mistake. the mistake is that we were not ready for the massive crowds that wanted pizza. but there was no way i could have known that today would be the day we would pass our previous record. and i assure you next weekend i will be ready to make 850 pizzas. i will. i will rise to this challenge and i will win. i will never be defeated by the appetite for good pie. today it’s 700, bring on 800….

these hiccups annoy me. my stress is apparent. let me sleep. let me think. let me rest.

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freddy to the rescue

i had a fitful nights sleep, worrying about the dish machine. i had alerted freddy to the issue and he said he’d be in before 8am. he’s reliable so i should have been able to forget about it, the broken dishwasher that is. ha. i woke up at 5am wondering if he was up, if it was too early to call him again. fell barely back asleep and woke up again at 6. laid there, thought about that dough that needs proofing. about 7 i got up and called him. he was on his way but had to stop by domino’s first. laid on the couch and fell asleep about 7:45. at 8:00 freddy calls. he’s found a piece of wire in the impeller motor. it’s a wire that holds a rack for the dishes and it had fallen in and stopped the motor. he’s on it. i lay there thinking about the dough i need to proof and the poor family that’s ticket got in the paper jam and the steak and cheese calzone that came late to table 10 because we sent it to another table. i fell asleep about 8:30. at 8:37 freddy calls back. it’s fixed. good to go. don;t use that wire no more to hold that rack.
by then the kids are up and the day is on. i call in and make sure ALL the dough is pulled out and proofing for today.

it’s noon. i’m headed to work to look at the dough. to make sure i’m happy with it. to help out or clean up something. i’ve got a list of projects i want to get to. so, no need for more writing now. but i did want you to know the dishwasher was fixed so you wouldn;t worry about our poor dish guys washing everything by hand on a saturday.

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