on a roll

After a nice summer of some travel and some leisure, I got back home and hit the ground running. Get my mom moved into a new place. Get the stained glass window factory cranked back up. Fix the things around the house. Paint the bedroom. Find a routine.

Today it’s all clicking and ticking. I just installed my third stained glass window after my summer slow down. I have a new one drawn and half cut out. While it could easily still take into 2017 to finish the project, it’s easier now to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It truly has been a tunnel because it isn’t very often I start a project I know will take me a very long time. I projected it would take a year to do the stained glass project and it will more likely be 1.5 years. That’s a big project. Big because I work all the time on it. I put in 25+ hours on it most weeks I suspect. I’d say an average of 4 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s important to me and it’s also fun. I love watching the vision come into focus.

I’m also trying to get on the paintings. Every year for over 20 years I have a show of new paintings. This year will be no different but I was pretty far behind on my paintings.  I would say I “usually”  do 12-20 paintings per year but the stained glass project stalled out the paintings to where I only had 3 after the busy summer of fun but I’ve made time to do 2 more and now working on a new one which will bring this years total to 6 by the end of this month I suspect. It’s not that the number of paintings really matters, but what does matter is that I can have a show of my new paintings and the walls don’t look bare. Nobody would really care but me but I care an awful lot. I would like to have 8 and it seems that may be possible at this stage.

However, the paintings/ collage this year are not that great. I am usually very excited about my work and even when I know the viewers won’t know or care they are excellent, I am pleased with myself for the quality of work. This year is quite different. I have been unhappy with each piece, although they look fine they just don’t make me excited. I have not been “inspired” to make another after each one I finish that is… meh.  Maybe because my heart is more in the stained glass right now, or maybe it’s the constraint I have given myself of working in symmetry, but I feel like I was in a rut…. until tonight.

And really that is the whole reason I came here to write. I was thinking to write about the challenge and excitement of my new painting but then I thought maybe I should go in the yard and record. I could easily talk for 10 minutes and make a new podcast about the challenge of this new simple painting and the good feeling of being on a roll, in the groove and with fizzy kombucha again.

But I figured it’d be sorta boring either way and writing is more acceptable boring than audio so I went with this. So 2 things that have me most excited and then off to my new pillow.

1. early in my painting days, in my 20’s, I would once in a while do a painting in 2 colors that was more like a drawing painting almost. I would use 2 colors very similar in tone (usually orange and brown) and paint weird things that seemed to disappear at dusk or dawn. This disappearance was like the best magic to me. I could look at a painting  and watch it slowly vanish as the sun set and not appear again until the sun hit the horizon. These paintings were so strange and most people would never see anything interesting in them, and most people would not get excited that they could vanish like that. So what?

But I don’t paint them for others but for myself and I have never lost my excitement over this phenomenon. The favorite painting I ever did is called Dusk Dawn and is 2 paintings in one and is 2 colors. I painted it in 1999.   It does not disappear so much because the orange is brighter and the brown is darker. But just the two colors makes me love it in a way that is hard to explain here near midnight when I have already said too much. Sometimes I say “I should do a 2 color painting” and then I start to but soon add a third color because it is so easy and I forget the challenge and reward a 2 color painting brings me. So in my funk of not being pleased with my paintings this year I decided to do a 2 color one. I started yesterday and worked on it for hours. It looked like crap. I was not sure it could ever look good but I kept working on it. Tonight I worked a couple more hours and it’s a struggle. It’s hard to just switch between the 2 colors and find a way to make something worth looking at. But I hit that place tonight where even through the challenge it was fun. I started to see that it kept calling me back and I can even sortof see it when I’m not looking at it. I think about it when I’m not painting it. That’s probably the sign of a good book and definitely the sign of a “good” painting, whatever that means.

So I cannot say it will be good when it’s done but it has excited me about a painting for the first time this year which is a rare and sad thing to say because usually I just live for painting all the time. It carries me week to week. I think about them and enjoy showing them off a little and photographing them and finding homes for them. This has been an off year but honestly even the paintings I don’t like end up having a fine life and often look better with time. A friend has one hanging in his house that I hated and I saw it yesterday and it looked beautiful. How did that happen?

And #2. And I really need to wind this up. Much too longwinded tonight… My kombucha. I was ready to give up making it because it has not been fizzy since early 2016 when I had let it go too long and it was taken over by fruit flies and I had to start over. I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong and right before giving up I figured it out. I had been letting it ferment for too long and thus a second fermentation was not allowing it to carbonate. I don’t entirely understand it but when I changed the ferment from one month to 2 weeks the stuff started getting fizzy again and finally tastes amazing. Oh it’s a relief because I really do love the stuff I am drinking tonight compared to hating the stuff I was making last month. It’s like it’s all coming together man. I can have fizzy as hell satch sour soda while I struggle and enjoy painting my mesmerizing 2 color symmetrical mandala. The struggle is a pleasant sort in which I feel progress and see solutions. Painting is simply a problem solving endeavor after all. Problem solving at its most elegant. And 2 colors?  Simple, elegant problem solving and really hard also.  It’s not something I should try and explain. It’s just my strange secret world.

 

 

Pizza

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It’s too late to start writing I know that but I start writing anyway. It’s a problem. I do things I know I shouldn’t do, like order popcorn at the movies right after eating dinner, or eating a second dessert when I am just being gluttonous. Or having pizza AGAIN when I know I should eat a vegetable once in a while. I’ve had pizza from 4 places in the last week, and at least 7 times. I ate pizza at this new place V Pizza twice. Once to try the pizza and once I went to try the wings but tried their gluten free pizza also. I went to the food truck Humble Pie one lunch, because I was craving some pizza and wanted to try something different. I’ve eaten at my own pizza place several times, and one night had take out from my place at a friends, one night a leftover a calzone from the frig.

Today I drove south of Ocala to buy a new mixer for our baker because she overloads all the mixers and has gone through 4 or 5 in the past 13 years, and when I got to the restaurant with it my wife was there and she asked to see it. I am hoping this is a more powerful mixer and maybe will last us a long time. I spent more on it than the other mixers.  Anyway, I open the door of the car to show her quickly and close the door and she says, “Why does your car smell like pizza?” and I was busted. I had stopped at Domino’s on the way back from Ocala because I had gotten some free pizza coupons and haven’t had Domino’s in some time. She was shocked, but she shouldn’t be. She knows me. But when she asked where I got lunch the other day when I had eaten at Humble Pie I avoided the question and changed the subject and she never caught on, so she doesn’t know about that time.

If I didn’t feel so guilt I might go to Pizza Hut tomorrow because I had Pizza Hut as a kid and I like to have that pizza every year or so to remember my childhood. I’m on a roll so why not keep going?  We’ll see.  It’s always best when I can slip it in some afternoon and she doesn’t know. She wants me to be healthy, my wife, and so she gives me shit for eating pizza too much. I understand. It really isn;t good for me.

But back to my regular rambling about sleep and trying to get enough and my bedtime (which I feel like I must mention on every post to explain my brevity and hurried tone…) it’s almost midnight and I didn’t sleep good last night and need to get my teeth brushed and make a plan for tomorrow, which means gather some stuff, make a list, mentally prepare a minute for my day, so I can’t tell you about the stained glass I’m working on, the paintings I am not getting done, or the slow pace of my progress which is only slow for me but not compared to normalness. I am wishing and hoping that I make time to write and maybe make a new podcast, and sleep more, in the coming days and weeks. But I also want to make time to jog, swim, and do some general stretching and I know the challenge of “making time.” It’s something I’m not good at. I find time now and then but I find it so hard to make time. Mostly it just rolls right over me like a herd of buffalo. Good night and good luck in finding something better to read than this.

Oh and a quick P.S.: getting this off my chest might help me sleep better tonight. Apple is getting on my nerves.  Not even the headphone jack thing that so many people are mad about. I could care less about that.  No, my pretty new computer SUCKS since I installed this new OS and my phone sorta sucks too and I’m actually considering buying an android phone and a Windows computer. I can’t believe I just said that. I have been using a Mac for I don’t know- 15 years now? but I just can’t take it.  iTunes is so bad, my computer and phone sort of seem shitty. It’s a long story and I don’t have time to tell but mark my words, Apple is not on the up and up. They are screwing up in a lot of ways and I wish there was a third option for me right now but it’s like the Trump Clinton thing. We only get 2 choices. you know what I mean.

nothing

here i am again with nothing to say but something made me come here.  it’s as if i have stuff bottled up i guess. i feel a little bottled up but don’t know what to say.  i have a million things i could complain about but that doesn’t seem appropriate. i mean, it would successfully get it all off my chest before bed but i would just feel ungrateful and like a loser for doing it.

the restaurant is running better than ever, at least from my perspective. maybe it’s the 13 years under our belt, or the longevity of great employees, or  maybe the managers have just gotten better at managing.  Maybe the whole thing just started to click, maybe my expectations went down a bit, maybe it’s just raw luck, maybe. i don’t really know.  it’s hard to put a finger on it.  to explain with words exactly why everything seems easier this year, better.

so this development has me spinning a bit, not so much wondering what to sink my teeth into but trying to understand time and how to enjoy the days getting to all of my ideas and goals. i have so many things to do. so many things to build.  if i stop to think about the things i want to build i get anxious of course.  what else is there in the face of so much mind visions? anxiety thats what.

i know, or at least i think i know, that i must get to the building of whirligigs.  tall funky ones, small simple ones. bright colored ones and bland brown and green ones. i don’t know exactly where i can put them all but something tells me i’ll find places for them in between and over there. maybe they can rise up skinny-like between this and that? maybe they can fill in that one spot, and be on top of that other thing? but that’s a long distance radar, practically a telescope to the future, a microscope to the far reaches of my inner mind. before that is so much more stained glass, and paintings, and glueing things to places.  before that is a fort at the repurpose project i started so long ago and never got back to.  before that is a trophy tower sculpture that practically keeps me up at night with excitement. trophies.  i want to build something with old trophies but i don’t exactly have the vision yet.  i’ve been thinking about it and trying to see it, and trying to build it in my mind but i know i need to get the materials together and start. what a day that will be.  it may come this fall on a cool morning when the weather is really shifting to fall.  the day will come when i load up some old concrete chunks in my element, and pick up a few bags of quickrete from lowe’s and then pick up a box or two of trophies.  i’ll mix the cement, i’ll lay down some concrete chunks, i’ll cement in a trophy and then repeat it all.  i’ll likely think of other things to stick into the cement and look for something that is repetitive, very available, not much useful anymore, and goes good with trophies. writing about it makes me want to start tomorrow but i can’t.  i have an agenda here.  an agenda i tell you.

it’s been years since i’ve had tattoo work done on my arms.  i only have tattoos on my arms but i have 3 on each arm. i started when i was about 20. and then every few years i add just a little bit.  a line here and there, a few lines, the designs get bigger and weirder. but this has been a long spell without thinking about them much. maybe 4 years. tomorrow i am going in for some new lines. some new colors too. i’ll get a little done to 4 of them if it goes like i hope. i like tattoos and i don’t.  i would not recommend them to a 20 year old because we change so much over our lives and the tattoos just get dull or fuzzy. in some ways i wonder how they came to look like they do and other times they seem like they were just meant to be there exactly as they are, flaws and all. anyway, tomorrow is one of those tattoo days. fun. it’s sort of a marking of time for me for sure. the marking of a passage between this and that. a skinny tall whirligig that sticks up between the bushes of my days.

oh gosh it’s 11:37 already.  time.  i wrestle it every ding dong day.  i wish for more. i race it. i stay up too late and get up too early.  i act like tomorrow is my last day on earth and i’ve got to finish my list.  i am going to try and catch up for all the sleep i didn’t get last night. because i was finishing that stained glass in the studio, and then laying awake thinking about all the stuff i wanted to do today.

a bad night

Restaurant business…. You know the deal. It’s tough. It’s intense. It’s up and down. We have our share of problems too, even though we have exceptional staff and have ironed out a lot of the issues over our 13 years of seeking to improve and evolve. But essentially it’s more about people than food. Sure, the food has to be good and consistent and high quality but the people are more complex. Tonight we had an employee not show for their last shift and another employee quit, just walk out after getting yelled at. The first guy had given notice but when we said we could cover his shifts before the 2 weeks was over he said no. He said he wanted all the shifts. But then he called someone to work thursday for him. and friday too at the last minute. then saturday he just didn’t show, answer his phone, or nuthin. saturday is by far our busiest night, it can be more than twice as busy as other nights. So right away things were off kilter and stressful. We’re down one and we’re slammed.

I won’t get into the details of the other guy walking out. because it would just be my side of the story and that would seem unfair.  but yes i got mad and yelled at a guy and so he left.  it’s sad.  sad for him. sad for me.   it may end up being great for him and great for me who knows?  but it’s always sad to see someone go under stress and anger.  i’ve come such a long way in learning to deal with my stress and anger, but i still cannot accept outright defiance of clear orders.  i don’t run a co-op.  i make the decisions and expect folks to do as i ask.

So it’s sad.  sad to have a guy we liked screw us by not showing up.  he has friends there. he let us all down.  doesn’t he see how this hurts the whole team?  and the other guy, the one who walked out… he has a wife and kid and new apartment.  where will he work now?  what craptastic job will he get? he made $19 an hour with me, i will say that.  he had been with us 3 years.

right about the time shit was hitting the fan in the kitchen, somehow 2 things were not made on a ticket with 5 things on it.  so 20 minutes later when the food is coming out and we realize we are short 2 items we have to re-make those and now the table is eating in shifts.  everyone at the table is done by the time the last person gets their food.  shitty.  i had to go apologize and that is never fun.  “sorry we screwed up folks. we’re having a bad night. ”

then near the end all of the plumbing backed up. so there’s that to handle on monday.  at least it was a near the end of the night and we’re closed monday and can handle it but…

restaurant bizness.

it can get so thick.

Ireland

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My kids are both going to camp for 2 weeks soon.  The first time they’ve both been gone at the same time. So I am planning a little getaway to Ireland. I have always wanted to go there, because they speak Irish and I know it’s so green.  I am excited.  Just me and my lady. So cool.  The restaurant should be fine without me. Let’s hope and pray.

When I travel I like to find a little out of the way location.  Off the beaten path.  A little town and cottage to dig into, explore around. One little place to see.  Hopefully I’ve picked the right little spot. But you know life is thriving in every corner of the World. There is something to see and learn in any little corner or nook you can settle.  I won’t be hitting all the Lonely Planet spots, eating at the best Ireland has to offer, or seeing the best views. Honestly I can go to Google and see some great places.  But I will be enjoying my company, my surroundings, and something different.

Maybe I’ll find time to write and shoot a picture of this or that. Stay tuned.

When I was young and I traveled I made ZERO plans. I got a one way ticket to Europe in my 20’s and had no idea what I was doing. I hitchhiked around, fell in love, and had some of the most romantic times of my life so far. Now there is more information than should be allowed. And while I did book a round trip ticket (So I can pick up my kids from camp, ha) and while I did comb through some AirBnB rentals to find the right spot, I won’t do much more to plan.  I’ll go with a good attitude, a smile, and some excitement. Because I think the best traveling is where I discover the road each day. I wake up and figure out what’s out there. It’s always worked for me and why should it stop working now? I don’t want to let my age make my travels too predictable. It’ll be an adventure just like it was in my 20’s when I drove cross country, then caught a ride to Mexico, then a train back to Colorado and a bus back home. Or when I went to Atlanta, Alaska, Asia, Europe and Jamaica. Never once did I know where I was going or what I’d find and every time I was pleasantly surprised and more addicted to travel.

I am so thankful that my pizza joint has gained such popularity and allows me to do something like this now, 13 years later. I never imagined I would be able to leave for 10 days but now I feel sure things will go fine without me. The staff is responsible and hard working and I can take a break from my normal routine. It’s really hard to describe how thankful I am… To my employees and my awesome customers too. I am living a dream life. I am doing everything I ever wanted to do and more. And I am happy.  So happy.  Thank you.

just stuff

I’m gonna be honest with you, as I always am.  Probably too honest really, because I know I over share and while that feels fine late at night, it always seems strange and foreign in the morning. I don’t know why. There have been so many times I say things late at night out on the internet and then wake up and think, “Did I really say that?” and go and delete whatever it was. And you might think I have just had too much to drink at night but you would be wrong. It’s not about the beer or wine or whiskey so much as the late night tired mind and body vs the early morning freshness of mind and body. Well actually the body has little to do with I think, it’s mostly about the mind. IN ANY CASE, I have had this dilemma lately where it’s too early to go to bed and too late to go to the studio and so I’ll start off by explaining that.

Many evenings I get done with work and get done with hanging with the family, and get done with checking and responding to emails and checking news headlines, and I get stuck. It’s too early to go to bed. That’s not to say I can’t just go to bed early because I can, but when I do I find that I wake up 5 or 6 hours later and am restless and end up getting my sleep cycle out of whack. For example: if I go to bed at 10 I am likely to wake up at 3 or 4. I think it’s because my body mostly wants to sleep in the 5-6 hour range. Waking up at 4 I should just get up and go get stuff done. But I don’t. I lay there and toss and turn and wish I could keep sleeping and wait for the sun to rise. I tell myself I will just get up at 4 and go to the studio or start some project but I never do. I think, “Oh it’s still so early I can get in a few more hours of sleep.”  But that doesn’t happen. One of my goals is to actually get up when I wake up and try to see what I can find to stay busy. I can go to the studio and paint or work on stained glass, I could write. I could draw. I could work on an audio journal. Those are basically my go to things I do. I really don’t read or watch videos or whatever normal things most people do. I sometimes think about how nice it would be to sit and read a book or watch a show but then if I ever try I get entirely bored.  Anyway, I have learned that going to bed at 10 just messes up my sleep.

If I go to the studio I find that it is best to have 3 hours to work. The first hour to two hours is getting into the thing and the third hour goes by in what seems like minutes and everything gets done. I often go to the studio at 10 even though I know I don’t have the time I prefer but many times I am ready to go to the studio and it is 10:45 or 11. Not enough time to really even get into it. I know I should and I could just as I should and could get up at 4am and get things done, but I don’t.  My favorite time to sleep is midnight-6. I usually sleep straight through and enjoy the half hour of laying there awake waiting to get up. But if I don’t go to the studio at 11 and I want to wait until 12 to sleep and I am eager to stay away from mindless computer surfing (which always feels like a time waster) then I am stuck with writing.

That’s why I am here. It was 10:45 and too early for bed. I refuse to waste time surfing the web mindlessly. It is seldom I find any inspiration there. The studio work I have to do needs a bigger block of time and so I write. If I am confused about why I don’t get up at 4am when I am clearly awake?  and if I am perplexed about why things I say at night seem stupid in the morning? Well, neither of those things seems as puzzling as the fact that I decide that writing about my sleep habits is the best thing I can think of to do with my time. Why do I often think that opening up a page and stream of consciousness writing will be the solution to my problem of not being sure what to do next? Why is it that I think that the navel gazing exercise of explaining my mind workings in excruciating detail will be either worth reading or worth writing? And for a guy so caught up with efficiency and purpose the only real benefit to this exercise is adding a post to the list, pushing another post down the page, and getting my mind good and empty in hopes of a better nights sleep. Because I will say that often my best dreams come when my mind is empty. My best ideas come when I’ve cleared the closets and shelves that are my “to do” list. I think I  need a whole new paragraph to expound on that:

When I want to do a big project at work, I feel compelled to clean up and clear out all the little things that I’ve had going on. I must finish. I have a shelf full of junk people have dropped off and I can’t take on something big until that shelf is clear. Empty. Ready for new junk. When I unload my mind anxieties with writing then I am able to have the most wonderful dreams at night. I often have dreams where I am flying. I am soaring like a bird above the trees and buildings. I am traveling to faraway places. I am having fun. I am sometimes even showing off my abilities in flight. I only have these euphoric dreams about 4-6x a year (more and more lately though) but they are so intoxicating that I can still enjoy a taste of them now, weeks and months later, and I still remember the feeling. This is the first time I have associated the idea of clearing out my mind with good dreaming but I know it must be a factor because when my mind is full I wake up with night sweats and anxiety. Who could fly around if they were anxious and with a load of crap on their minds? But getting my ducks in a row means clearing and cleaning. I have always hated that we throw so much stuff away in life. We spend our days consuming and filling up garbage cans and landfills. We stupid small humans should not stack up trash around us but instead use the trash to make our world more interesting and colorful. So there is the root of my compulsion to glue things up as they come in. And because I do people bring me their junk and now I am compelled to find a home for it all. To decorate with the junk that comes my way. I’ll glue up the plastic pieces that seem to have no meaning and no use. I’ll glue up the strangers beer can collection. I’ll clutter the page with the words stuck in my head. I’ll keep unloading the words until they form sentences and paragraphs.

I’ll keep glueing junk to the walls until they have a purpose more meaningful than a landfill. 

I’ll keep writing until my words find a meaning bigger than my bedtime. 

When I attack a project I go full on without a plan. I always open a page and start writing with no idea what I’ll say. When I make art it is just me starting something that seems right and finding out where it leads. I often am very unsure of myself in the middle but I always know that if I keep going I can find the resolution. If it’s not working then I just keep going until it works.  My wife makes fun of the fact that I often work in a hurry as if I’m about to “get caught.” I do feel like I have to hurry but mostly because I have so many more things to get done. I do wonder if I’ll run out of time before I get it all done… you know- die. What if I never got to finish all my stained glass windows I want to do? What if I never got to paint the murals I want to paint?  What if my book remains unfinished? What if I never build the huge sculpture thing I want to build under the airplane? I’ve got to go fast because yes, I could get caught. and also I could die. I could die getting caught or I could get caught dying. What will be the last blog post on here?  What will I have said and what will I have left out?

The artist in me wants to leave a lot behind. As an artist I want the things I make to outlive me by a mile. I am here to make things with my hands. I am here to throw out ideas and chase my tail for a spell. I am here to entertain, to spread light, and to inspire.

I am here to talk in circles and draw in squares.

It’s not like I have a choice. It’s jut who I am. I want to be the loudest invisible man you’ve ever not seen or not heard. I want to write things that no one reads but that are out there to be found if they are needed.

And now it’s 11:52 and my mind is almost blank. Maybe I can have one of those amazing dreams tonight. Maybe if I lay there and think about my breathing instead of what I need to get done tomorrow. Maybe if I can get the last few words typed out here by midnight, and think about flying as I fall asleep….

Maybe I’ll sleep straight through until 6 and get up and feel rested and wonder why I wrote all this crap. Maybe I’ll always have good dreams.  Maybe I’ll make something tomorrow that will be the best thing yet.

 

 

simple

My life is so simple. I go to my job, running a restaurant, and find things to fix and do. I can have ZERO agenda and keep myself occupied for hours. I can have a big agenda and never get to any of it. But when I get there I find things to clean and organize. I carry a razor knife around so I can cut off the tops of boxes. I’ve bought blades for employees and talked to them about cutting off those box flaps, but I don’t think anyone gets as much enjoyment from that as me. They might do it after I ask for a couple days. But then it’s me again. Making shelves look tight. Throwing junk out that accumulates. Wondering how I can find so many server aprons left in nooks and crannies. Picking up trash in the parking lot. It’s a long list all it’s own, talking about what keeps me busy up there at the joint.

But that’s only the first slice of the day. My life is still simple. I take a kid to school and go by the joint and tighten up. I run an errand maybe and then home to the studio. I paint. I work on a stained glass window. Maybe bust out a few tools in the shop and make or fix something that needs to be made or fixed for the house or the joint…. I do this for most of the rest of the day.

There’s the dinner break. Some days I come in and eat with the family and some days I go back to the joint. But my whole life mostly breaks down into work, art, family time. It’s simple. I like it this way. I answer all my emails. I do not take meetings. I respond to every POS salesman that I don’t need a new POS. I keep telling Groupon we’re not interested. I answer question for the college students about my business. I order stuff online for the restaurant. And I spend about 10 minutes a day on the Facebook. I check a few posts that happen to be at the top of my feed and check the restaurant page too. I come across the haters sometimes. I wonder “What is up with the haters?” I wonder “How come people can be so rude and stupid on Facebook?” I swear, of all the things I do in a day, spending time on Facebook is the worst. I should probably stop posting on the work page, and checking around, but it’s like a strange addiction I barely understand. Why do I want to read the stupid comments? Why do I waste my time and energy there?

I don’t like sitting at the computer very much. To be honest I’m not even a huge fan of checking my phone although I spend half my life doing just that. It’s a phenomenon I don’t entirely understand. There’s not many things on my phone to even look at. I check Twitter more than anything, and Instagram a couple times a day. I check my email WAAAAY too often for no apparent reason. But listen to podcasts mostly on the thing. I don’t even like the podcasts that much anymore. They are all getting so boring now.

Anyway, I was interrupted by a phone call from a faraway friend. Now I’m too tired to write anymore. If I saved this as a draft I would never come back to it. I originally wanted to post about the contrast of a simple life to the internet haters but lost interest in that and what’s the point anyway? My life is simple. I like it. I imagine the less time I spend on computers the better my life will be. Out.

End of April

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It’s May now.

37 minutes into May 2016…

But we just went through our busiest week of the year and proved a couple things:

  1. Yes, it is the busiest week of the year.  I believe on December 31st it will still prove true that this was our busiest week.
  2. We killed.  We made it look easy. Anytime someone can do something super hard and make it look easy you know they are good at what they do. Tonight was our busiest night EVER and my dishwasher Al?  He made it look easy.  He was always caught up. He took a 9 O’clock smoke break. He killed. All around the place we made it look easy. We had plenty of staff. We all worked hard but it never felt insane. We made the busiest day ever look easy. All week seemed easy.
  3. There is always a new frontier. While we had the “busiest night shift” ever and the busiest “entire compound” day ever, we did not break day shift or LSE records. What will it feel like to break every record at the same time? Busiest day, busiest night, busiest LSE, and busiest all time? It’s bound to happen eventually.
  4. We all feel like it’s basically like any other week or weekend. It doesn’t feel especially insane. (This is due to the fact we have more people and are better prepared than any other week or weekend.

Here’s the most exciting part for me:

The ovens are fixed.

I spent over $15,000 for brand new ovens over a year ago and they burned the pizzas all the time. I spent lots of money and “days off” working to fix the problems with only slight results. Finally, after more than a year of trying, I figured it out….  It was a combination of MAJOR flame diverter additions AND over $1500 on new oven stones to cook on. I had my welder friend at ALL STEEL SECURITIES make a plate to go over the oven flame and then went to JACKSON STONEWORKS and found 1.5″ granite to put on top of the oven diverter plates to finally abate the flames and keep them from burning the pies in less than a minute. This was the FIRST weekend since getting these new ovens that we had full flame diversion in place for BOTH new ovens and were able to cook “normally” and avoid black bottom and burned pizzas. I almost feel like I should be a pizza oven engineer at this point, or I should be starting a new company that designs the perfect pizza oven… (It would look quite different from the Baker’s Pride 452’s that I now own and have majorly altered…)

It was a great week. I had a bad start (TMI to get into in this public space) and it was difficult for me all the way through (TMI to explain in writing here……………)

But now I am excited to 1. Put it behind me and 2. Take a day off and 3. Try and sleep late and 4. Think about the future.

I have lots to be thankful for and many exciting things coming up soon.

I’ll maybe tell all about it here.

Maybe I’ll even  post to Medium.

Maybe I’ll even make a new podcast…..

Later I might tell you why I have a black eye in the picture above.

Good night.

 

 

 

tesla and other stuff

tesla unveiling their model 3 car tonight, even though it is actually the fourth model.  there was the roadster, the model s, the model x and now the 3.  i follow this story closely. i follow tesla more than any other company after my own. i am a super fan.  i see the potential downsides of the company and i still think they can overcome the obstacles because basically i believe what they are doing will be the future of automobiles. autos will be electric like our cell phones.  we will charge them nightly. we will get updates over the air.  there will be very little maintenance.

work is kicking my tiny little butt.  my butt is really small. small butt, big belly. that’s the modern man for you.  currently kicking my small butt is work.  i have more things to do there than i can comprehend. however.  in the interest of interest, i will share with you the top 50 things:

  1. painting designs on the porch.
  2. moving the speakers to make way for air conditioning.
  3. finishing mosaic behind the shed
  4. repainting decorative stripes in LSE
  5. repairing mosaics around everywhere.
  6. replanting things that need moving
  7. moving sculptures for better visibility
  8. adding shelves and more product placement in the gift shop
  9. designing new bumper sticker
  10. designing new coffee mug
  11. designing new t shirt
  12. thinking about how to get people into the plane
  13. thinking more about the design for getting people into the plane with complete safety
  14. working on stained glass windows
  15. working on cleaning everything everywhere all over the property inside and out and every nook and cranny
  16. thinking about new lighting behind the shed
  17. working the ovens on friday nights
  18. working a new station on saturday nights
  19. working on a new kitchen schedule
  20. trying to find a solution to a new bacon dilemma
  21. cooking and trying all sorts of new bacon
  22. fixing equipment
  23. ordering parts to fix equipment
  24. trying to get faster at everything
  25. problem solving
  26. cleaning up the back area where everything is staged from.
  27. taking excess junk to repurpose
  28. fixing things
  29. making things better
  30. starting the process of covering the kitchen walls in stainless steel sheets
  31. writing newsletters to employees about everything i can think of
  32. thinking about how to make wires disappear everywhere
  33. making new pamphlets
  34. constantly ordering new things on amazon from new viewmasters to new walkin curtains.
  35. installing new stained glass.
  36. getting a/c’s yearly maintenance
  37. trying to be positive
  38. trying to work hard
  39. trying to find new things to clean
  40. trying to find new places to decorate
  41. thinking about safety.
  42. making sure pizzas are  made right
  43. making sure pies are cooked right
  44. making sure lighting is optimal
  45. making sure music is optimal
  46. making sure we have enough employees
  47. emails to specific employees about specifics
  48. going to lowes again
  49. thinking about new projects
  50. thinking more about new projects.

i guess that’s my “top 50” things.  i wrote that list in about 3 minutes. I can;t stop thinking about work. i am manic.

 

it’s strange lately how much i am invested and how much i am getting done. i make time for kids and my wife but i spend lots of time tightening up everything at work.  i know i can get it real tight before the summer and then spend some extra time with the family.

i am more manic and more excited lately than ever before. i am more excited about work and more excited about everything. i have more ideas and more energy but i also get more tired. it’s a strange see saw.  i’m up up up the down and tired for a second.  then up up up then tired and weary for a minute. its mania.  i looked up the definition of manic. it’s great:

 

man·ic
ˈmanik/
adjective
  1. showing wild and apparently deranged excitement and energy.
    “his manic enthusiasm”
    synonyms: mad, insane, deranged, demented, maniacal, lunatic, wild, crazed,demonic, hysterical, raving, unhinged, unbalanced; More

    • frenetically busy; frantic.
      “the pace is utterly manic”
      synonyms: frenzied, feverish, frenetic, hectic, intense; More

      it describes me a little too well…

      i get to work and i am manic. i wonder why everyone around me is moving so slow and seems to be so calm.  i wonder how they get anything done as i ramp up to 3x speed.  i am even avoiding caffeine.  i do not drink coffee and only occasionally sweet tea.  i avoid caffeine because i get headaches. i have learned caffeine is too strong for me. so i have decaf coffee.  i drink decaf tea. i try and try to avoid cola although i have a swig of lola cola here and there.  a full glass of sweet tea every other week.  sometimes two.

      caffeine seems like the strongest drug to me. it propels me to crazy places.  if i am manic without caffeine then with it i am insane.

    i am so happy that i take no medicine daily.  no pills.  i don’t take blood pressure meds or anti anxiety or anti depression or anything.  i don;t want to take meds. i hope i never have to take meds but as i get older i guess i will have to take something.  high blood pressure pills will probably be the first thing i need.  my blood pressure is getting up there lately.

    teslas model 3 unveiling is about to happen in california.  the live video has begun now.  started watching the video and then it went blank.  crashed the server i guess.  enough from me tonight. more soon.  buy a tesla people.  it’s the future.

Cutting tomatoes and folding boxes

 

My daughter is 11. Tonight I showed her for the first time how to cut a tomato for a pizza topping and how to fold a medium pizza box. You see I have a pizzeria and she wants to work there, and she even dreams about running it one day.

She comes with me to work more and more lately. At 11 she has learned to work the register, deliver food (memorizing the 20+ table numbers,) take orders and bus a table. Oh, and also to work the new host station app from Open Table.

Tonight as I was frantically making pies she came to me and said, “What can I do now?” I said; “Go bus tables.” She said, “ But that’s easy and I want to do something hard.” At this point my mind raced thinking about how hard it really is to be a good table busser, to be fast and efficient, to clear everything in one swoop, to inform the host quickly, but instead I said, “Let’s cut tomatoes.”

At our pizzeria fresh tomatoes is a topping and they are diced and very ripe tomatoes so you get a bite of tomato in every bite of pie. We cut them throughout the night so they are fresh as possible. We needed tomatoes but I was afraid of letting her use the knife. Everyone who uses a knife cuts themselves at some point, I thought and I never want her to cut herself.

But reason won the debate and I decided she needed to learn. I got a cutting board and a good knife, some ripe tomatoes and starting my simple instruction. “Let the knife do the work.” “Saw the slices because this tomato is so ripe.”

She was visibly excited. She cut a tomato. I could see that her skinny arms needed muscle. I watched her hesitation and caution. She cut a couple tomatoes and they were great. I felt like a proud father. My daughter could use a knife to cut tomatoes for a restaurant. She was taking her steps towards ownership. She was enjoying what I enjoy, working at simple projects to create a larger and healthy career. I felt like I was cutting a tomato for the first time and I loved it like she was loving it.

Two or three times later she came to me claiming, “You need tomatoes? I can cut your tomatoes” or “Tomato cutting is my specialty. I’m here to cut your tomatoes.” She was beaming. She was ready for me to tell her we needed 5 more tomatoes diced. She had learned something hard. And something new.

Later we were out of medium boxes. Someone needed to fold a stack of 14″ boxes. No one has time for this nonsense, we are all so caught up just trying to keep the onslaught of tickets moving through the rails. I am looking for my girl. She was bussing a table in the garden last I saw her. Could she still be bussing that table? No. She had worked 3.5 hours and she was now waiting for mom to pick her up. She was atop the fort in the restaurant playground. She was close to the table she had just bussed but 5 feet up on the fort, pulling herself up above the 5 year olds around her. “Hey! I need you to fold boxes!” She jumps down and follows me while she tells me how hard it is to fold boxes. You see, she had only learned to fold the clay boxes. The clay boxes are the super thin small paper boxes that require tabs and pushing slits to insert tabs to fold. Even the most veteran employee has to struggle to fold a clay box. But I needed 14″ legit cardboard pizza boxes. Folding them is as fun as spinning a pizza dough, but easier. I showed her one and she says “WOW! These are easy! Why can’t the other boxes be designed like this?” I explain that these are 45 cents a piece boxes and the others are thin and 10 cents a piece. I tell her that these fold easier because the cardboard is thicker. I know how fun it can be to fold these boxes really fast and I see that she gets this by box #3.

I paid her $21 tonight for her 3.5 hours of work. I praised her for learning new things like tomato cutting and box folding. Tonight she delivered her first hot pizza to a table and I told her to stop and have that “human interaction” at the moment of dropping off the pizza. I had her visit a few tables with me while I asked how the pizza was and made small talk. I thought deeply about how what I do is what she will learn. I want to be perfect. I want to be the best example possible to my daughter who is so hungry to learn.

As much as I love making pizzas, and as much as I love cooking pies and taking them to tables…. As much as I love to check back on folks who I know are having taste bud bliss, none of that ever felt as good as teaching my daughter tonight to cut a tomato, fold a pizza box, and greet a customer. I know she loves me and learns from me. I know she is learning more than I am teaching. I know she is filing away the secrets of making a restaurant hum. And it makes me happier than anything has ever made me before. I am elated. I am the glowing proud father and teacher. I am humbled. I am eager. I am a kid again.

But I also have a 14 year old boy. Today we spent 3 hours working on a graphic project for Satchel’s. Six or eight years ago I quickly drew a map of the property. I made it into a trifold pamphlet that we offer to customers to navigate our Disney like experience. It’s terrible. It’s outdated and jumbled. It’s bad. So, my son is now digitizing a modern version. He is helping me by making the new trifold on the computer instead of the old honest to goodness paper cut and paste style. He loves it. His hands move like lightning across the Macbook Air keyboard. He saves in a high resolution jpg file straight to my Google Drive folder called Satch’s Graphic Projects which is a file chocked FULL of logos, posters and flyers he has made in the last couple years. He made $30 in 3 hours today. A great deal for the best graphic artist I know. He was jammed full of suggestions but knew when to let well enough alone. Am I the best dad in the World or do I just have the best kids?

Nothing is better than my kids. My kids help me love my job and my kids help me forget it is even “work.” My kids keep me inspired and compelled. My kids have taken over as my #1 Love in life. My kids are the most beautiful thing I ever made.

I am in the profession of serving people. I love it. I want to make you the best dinner you’ve had, maybe ever. I want to make you dinner in the best environment with the best lighting. I want to make your eyes light up and I want to make your brain find new places. I am after your top five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell, plus I want you to be happy, satisfied, full, satiated and content. I actually hope to serve up all of this when you’re visiting my restaurant.