My name is Don, and I tailgate.

Hi. My name is Don. And I tailgate. I tailgate at Michigan State. I fell in love with tailgating, oh, around 1992. I got outta college, got married, got a job, and from 1997 until 2004 I was obsessed. I had season tickets. I never missed. Tailgating wasn’t a problem. I wasn’t addicted. I coulda quit any time. I finally did quit …sniff sniff …around 2005. I don’t remember exactly, but I know my wife and I had our third child in 2006. I think that made it three children under the age of 4 and I  . . . I . . . I just couldn’t do it anymore. Eventually these cursed kids got into soccer and dance and school and my Saturdays were spent far away from campus. No sounds of marching bands warming up. No loud speakers at tailgate playing Steve Miller or Pearl Jam. And I no longer drank a 12-pack of Miller Lite before Noon. Read More

The Camp Chef is THE GREATEST

A war is coming. I’m about to write something that, if I had more than 12 readers, would set off a firestorm of angry comments and Tweets more intense than a hundred year Trump campaign. A rage worse than an old-person and a young-person arguing over COVID (origins, treatments, and vaccines).

Ready? Stop reading if you don’t want to be part of the world’s next, heated (pun) debate.

The Camp Chef flat top grill is the BEST grill. Anyone who calls themselves a grill master or a foodie, and doesn’t have a Camp Chef flat top grill (or a Blackstone …which is NOT as good, but it isflat top, griddle, so I don’t judge those owners as harshly) is a phony and a poser.

It’s OK if you don’t (yet) own a non-Camp Chef grill, as long as you admit, money not an issue, you would have a Camp Chef and it is a superior outdoor cooking contraption to anything else.

Actually, what am I talking about. This shouldn’t be controversial, at all. The Camp Chef flat top grill (or “griddle” if you’re nasty) is the best. Everyone knows it. It’s like saying some other canyon is better than the Grand one, or that some other series of five lakes are greater than the Greats. To say something so absurd would get you laughed at.

What can’t the Camp Chef flat top do? I’ll wait. What? You can’t answer that question? Of course you can’t. Because the Camp Chef grill does everything.

Scrambled eggs? Check. Bacon? Check. Grilled veggies? Check. Pancakes, hash browns, burgers, chicken? Check. Check. Check. Check. Oh, and if you simply MUST have flames and grill marks on your steak or you think food smothered in BBQ sauce needs to be “caramelized” …if that’s your game, well, take the flat top off  and you have a traditional grilling surface.

Photo Jun 07, 8 17 05 AM

But you know the flames and that burnt, charred food is all full of Cancer, right?

Here’s what’ll blow your mind . . . it has no lid! That’s right. No lid, but don’t fret …some simple disposable (I re-use mine) foil pans can cover your food if you want that convection heat.

Why did I wait until my 48th birthday to get one? Well, because the Camp Chef is like a super secret society and nobody wrote an impassioned Blog entry like this one. It’s like Camp-Chef-anon for grillers and I’m not gonna lurk in the shadows anymore!

Camp Chef flat top is the best because…

  • It’s versatile and can cook anything
  • Even heat
  • HUGE cooking surface that can handle multiple items at once
  • It gets BETTER with time
  • the mess of bacon is OUTSIDE your house
  • you can CUT stuff right on it, like fajita meat, and seer the cut-up parts
  • unlike the Blackstone, this isn’t cast iron, this is cooking steel
  • it DOES have a traditional grill when you need flame and grill marks on what you’re cooking.

The only drawbacks are the extreme heat (which is why I built my Camp Chef it’s own altar (is it sacrilegious to say my grill is an altar, or I placed my grill on an altar?) and you need it almost perfectly leveled so the grease and oil runs off correctly into the drip tray. Luckily the feet on the legs are adjustable and under the steel cooking surface are little screws you and tighten or loosen and adjust the slope ever-so-slightly. Oh, Camp Chef …you thought of everything.

Here’s my quick video on how to know if it’s leveled and slopes correctly (I know, total genius).

You’ll need a cover for when you’re not using it and when you’re using it, keep it away from your house (just like a regular stupid grill) because it kicks off alotta heat and can melt vinyl windows …don’t ask me how I know this and why I built the altar. OK? Many videos will say use vegetable oil but here’s my pro tip …get some old fashioned Crisco. It doesn’t have a lid, but foil pans solve that problem. It takes discipline and a little extra time to clean …it …each and every time. Very important. But worth it and when you clean it and season it. Cook on it, clean it and season it. Cook on it, clean it, and season it …oh, it gets better and better.

Photo Jul 12, 6 28 37 PM

That’s enough for now. Just one guy, crying out in the night, begging the world to join him in flat top grilling bliss (unless you count all the YouTubers with thousands of videos about flat top grilling). 

There. I said it. I ain’t afraid to take a stand. 

Are Green Peas Healthy?

I think a healthy obsession is, well …healthy. A great thing about this modern world is, if you suddenly get an idea in your head, you can deep dive into that thing and be consumed by it. Can you think of anything topical from the last year-and-a-half that people researched online and became experts in?

Whether you want to learn to knit, fix your lawnmower, research green peas, or cultivate an expertise in infectious diseases …well, my friend, you can join Reddit groups, read articles, read Blogs, follow Twitter accounts by prominent experts in that thing you’re interested in.

For the past 48 hours, I’ve been looking into whether green peas are healthy or not. No. I haven’t joined a green pea Reddit group and haven’t looked (but I bet there is one).

Some recent (healthy) obsessions have been… Read More

Getting Old, Part 1: Celebrating it

I’m getting old.

Sometimes getting old is a bad thing. Sometimes it’s GREAT.

Welcome to my 8-Part series on getting old, embracing getting old, what to do about it (no, it won’t involve a “blood boy”), and bragging about why I’m awesome being old.

I’ll start by bringing the room down (great way to start a Blog). If you made it to 48-years-old, like me, CONGRATS!. Actually, if you’ve made it any age and you still (mostly) get out of bed without groaning and haven’t “survived” anything major, CONGRATS, again. If you’re not struggling emotionally and mentally …again …CONGRATS. If you have a family, friends, and you laugh out loud (I mean REALLY LOLing) at least once a week, and you have wrinkles near the corners of your eyes because you smile alot … YOU’VE ALREADY WON. You might know this, already, and if you do, I’m happy for you.

It ain’t easy being cheery and counting your blessings, all the time, but if you work at it and practice, your life, attitude, and optimism will improve.

Which brings me back to, well … me. Which might also be you … a little. I’m in my late 40s. Is that “mid life” and should I be having a “crisis?” I would have to live into my 90s for this to be mid-life …oh, no. That means I missed my actual “mid-life” and never had my crisis. Why? What happened? Why didn’t I freak out when I turned 40 realizing the best-of-times was behind me and I hadn’t written my best seller, hadn’t done a full triathlon, and wasn’t the CEO of a company I founded (after founding two other start-ups and selling them for millions)? 

Why didn’t I have my mid-life crisis?

I’ll tell you why? I was too busy having a mid-life awakening. I’ve said for years that “life” doesn’t even begin, maybe, until we’re 25. Think about it …for the first 18 years of our lives, most of us live out the same script as everyone else. We don’t make our own choices. We don’t have adventures. We mostly do what everyone else does in order to get to 18 and then most of us do the next thing everyone else does (college?) and that takes us to 23 years old.

Oh, sure, you can mix in some pretty awesome stuff during that time, but mostly it’s the script. Let me guess …you made your lifelong friends? You fell in love and got engaged. You won something great in high-school and you bought your first car? My point is, whatever you did, mostly someone else was guiding those decisions.

Life, my friends, begins at 25. And I could actually argue that it doesn’t begin until 30 (I was pretty much an idiot throughout my 20s, but don’t worry, my kids weren’t born until I was 30 and got smart).

And if life begins at 30, and I’m going to live until I’m 80, that makes my “mid life” actually 55 years old and that means I have 7 full years to be care-free until I FREAK OUT at mid-life.

Before you’re 30, you don’t even know what you want or what makes you happy. Only after that do people start to realize what really makes them happy. Like for me, happiness is a summer vacation at the same spot every year. It’s taking 5-minutes to make a cuppa coffee with quality beans. It’s writing a Blog that only a few people read. It’s building bonfires in my backyard. It’s having a perfect lawn. It’s buying the perfect grill. It’s a black car with black leather interior. It’s quality audio equipment. It’s a whisky & ginger ale. It’s a good beer. It’s a cheap beer. Happiness, happiness, happiness. 

I’m not saying life won’t have sad, heartbreaking, and disastrous moments that make it awfully hard to be happy but when bad things happen, I remind myself I’m not the first person going through a bad time, and some people have gone through much worse and sometimes they do it alone and don’t have the family and friends I have. Oops, there I go, again …turning negatives into positives and sadness into gratefulness.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I hope you haven’t had too much tragedy in your life and I hope you don’t leave a comment like, “well, easy for you to say, you’re lucky and you can say that because only good things seem to happen to you.”

Trust me. Every moment of my 48-years hasn’t been Ozzie & Harriet or Leave It to Beaver. I’ve had my moments.

But I’m glad for them. They make me appreciate the things in my life, now, and those sad moments help me understand what makes me truly happy and . . . I’m just getting started.

Day 1

There’s always a Day 1 and any day can be a “day 1”.

This is my “day 1” of getting back to my Blog.

My life, at the moment is full of Day-1s. My wife just took a new job teaching a new grade and subject. My youngest daughter just started high-school. My oldest daughter is about to start college. My sister-in-law took a new job. My brother got promoted. A friend is about to retire. Another friend started 75-Hard. Dozens of my daughter’s friends are moving their own sons and daughters off to college.

Day-1s are exciting. Nerve wracking. Full of unknown. Full of hope. Sometimes better than the day before. But sometimes worse. I’m sure I’m not the first person to write about the Day-1 phenomenon, but I’m not going to Google it.

The truth is, every day can be a Day-1 for something. Like, Monday was also my Day-1 of journey to getting myself healthy, fit, and strong enough to attempt an American Ninja Warrior course. I see dudes my age (48) and older on TV doing amazing things and I think, “whoa, the human body can DO THAT!?!?!?!”

So I turned off the TV and started. I did a plank. Did some sit-ups. Wrote down a plan. And the next morning I lifted some weights and did one pull-up. Not bad for Day-1.

What do I mean that any day can be a Day-1? Think about it. If today you decide you’re going to be more organized and you start …it’s your Day-1 for that.

Years ago (I think 45 years, in fact), when I was a toddler I came up to my Dad with a cigarette butt in my mouth and I guess I said, “look, Dad, just like you.” He crumpled up his pack of cigarettes and never smoked one another day in his entire life. I have no working memory of my Dad smoking a cigarette …only stories and a few photos.

He had a Day-1 thrust upon him out of the blue. He didn’t wait for “after Labor Day” or “January 1st” …he just did it.

And this is my point I’m trying to make to my nervous wife and daughters …Day-1s aren’t easy. And if Day 1, 2, and 3 aren’t great? Start again with a new Day-1.

  • Day-1 of being nicer to people.
  • Day-1 of exercise.
  • Day-1 of avoiding sugar.
  • Day-1 of writing daily
  • Day-1 of drinking a gallon of water per day

You can have a Day-1, right now! Day-1 for your book? Day-1 for your positive outlook and avoiding gossip and negative people. Day-1 for turning off cable news and not looking at Drudge and instead downloading Podcasts about healthy eating and fitness. Day-1 for developing a great night time routine that will let you sleep better and improve every part of your life (yes, I’m obsessed with sleep, but most of you know that).

Mainly …I just want to say …I hope you’re having a great day (one).

Dad Stuff: Dad Decree 1

No shoes to be worn in the house.

Today, on the 28th day of April, in the year of our Lord 2021, I, as Dad in our household, decree that shoes are not to be worn around the house.

This will be the first of many. I’ve been a Dad for 18 years and I have many rules, and ideas for rules, but I’ve never written them down. It’s like anarchy around my house now that I think about it. Lack of written rules is no way to run a household.

I’d like to thank Dr. Joel Kahn who works so hard to make the world free of Cancer and heart disease. He does this in many ways, and one of his ways is smart, insightful Instagram posts.

To my wife and kids… you’re welcome! For making our lives better.

Don Stuff, Part 5: “without You” song meaning

My daughters hate that when I like a song I want to know all about the lyrics and what the song means. They won’t engage with me on this amazing song by Kid Laroi called “Without You.”

First, let’s establish that it’s a good song. If you say nobody makes good music these days, you’re wrong. This song has pain, emotion, and a good story.

But what is that story? Care to state your opinion?

Read More

Don Stuff, Part 4: New Weezer video

After a long day and long week at work and stress impacting my sleep, what a nice surprise for Weezer to release a video for “Grapes of Wrath.”

I’m going to enjoy this.

I’m also committing to using “impact” because I don’t even know when to use “effect” versus “affect.”

Like, is stress at work effecting or affecting my sleep? Are sugary snacks effecting or affecting my headaches? Or is restless sleep the affect of stress at work?

I don’t care about the right answer.

Stress at work is impacting my sleep.

Sugary snacks impact my headaches.

Restless sleep impacts my stress at work.

A new Weezer video impacts my happiness.

Don Stuff, Part 3: No More Cheap Haircuts

I gotta get back to what makes me …me!

My hair.

It’s OK. I know what you’re thinking. You know and I know my hair ain’t ever gonna be what it was in my 20s and 30s, but I’m coming to terms with that. I see what you see. I have more forehead than I want. I can see a little more scalp through my hair than I’d like. But I’m 47 …I guess that’s just what happens.

Maybe it’s stress. Maybe it’s diet. Maybe it’s exactly what would’ve happened to my hair regardless of my life path. Maybe it’s the same male-pattern baldness that would’ve resulted from running a charter fishing boat in Maui where my downtime was spent kayaking, surfing, and painting and I didn’t have a wife, kids, demanding job, and debt versus my current middle-aged, middle-class life with all the stuff I wouldn’t have with a life alone on Maui.

Not saying I want that Maui life …well, maybe if it meant I would’ve kept my 20-something hair. 

Whoa. This Blog isn’t about life choices. Where was I? Oh, yes, my life choice regarding my hair. 

Are you sitting down? At Christmas, I decided to save some money and stop going to my expensive barber and, instead, just hit a chain haircut location thinking, with my current hair situation, what did it matter. In fact (make sure you’re sitting down), I bought a pre-paid gift card that gave me $9.99 haircuts and a FREE haircut on the day I bought the gift card. It made such great, responsible economic sense …but at what cost?!?!?!

I haven’t had even sideburns in months. Most times I look like my son experimented with haircutting. I know those women work hard at that chain haircutting place so I won’t even mention which one …but I can’t do it anymore. It’s a top-down approach to life. No, I won’t do the salon like I did in my 20s and early 30s, although I loved the deep conditioning, the mint teas, and the jazzy new age music ….I won’t do that but I will, at least, get my neck shaved, I’ll have a barber that knows me and my head of hair, and this little bit of consistency back in my life will go a long way toward better mental health.

Not to mention a great looking head of hair, even if I’m going pretty short (a 2 around the ears, 3 on the sides, and scissor cut on top). Plus, at my barber shop, I can come in halfway between haircuts and for a small fee, they’ll clean up my sideburns and neck. Trust me, the grey in my sideburns get pretty outta control at times. My barber cleans up my eyebrows.

It’s worth it and I’ll feel a little bit more like myself. I’m sure everyone who knows me and interacts with me on a daily basis will be happier, too, and won’t have to keep pretending they don’t notice my bad haircuts.

You’re welcome.

Food Stuff, Part 4: Have an Eating Plan

Do you like metaphors? If you want to drive from Michigan to California and see landmarks along the way, do you just hop in the car and start driving? No. If you want to have a garden or a beautiful flower bed, do you just throw seed down in the fall and hope for the best in the spring? No.

Do you want five more metaphors or should I get to my point? If you want to live to be a hundred and you want to be dancing at weddings in your 90s, you need to be healthy and eat the right things …the “map to California” if you will. Recently, a friend started yet another diet and he asked me, “what are you doing? What’s your diet?”

I told him it ain’t no diet. It’s a plan. It’s a plan for healthy blood, a healthy heart, a healthy gut, an unfoggy brain, and hopefully great hair.

I’m vegetarian. 90% of the time. I avoid any/all foods with preservatives or added chemicals or colors. This is me …EVERY DAY …and I think I figured this out from Tim Ferriss. It’s oh so boring, but I find if I waiver for more than a couple days, my anxiety spikes, my brain gets foggy, I can easily convince myself to procrastinate or have a cookie, I don’t sleep as well … I’ll feel grumpy …all sorts of stuff. I’m fanatical about food. If my wife ever divorces me it’ll be because my food routine almost seems like I’m acting smug.  But I really try to make this my thing without making a big deal out of it (like “look at meeeeee … I’m Mr. Healthy and you’re not”). Plus, bragging too much can come back to make me eat my words because from time to time I’ll go a few weeks eating like crap.

But, here it is.

Breakfast*
1 slice sprouted bread with 1 TBLS MCT oil poured on like butter, a heaping spoonful of organic almond butter, and a heaping spoonful of fresh fruit preserves from local farmers markets.
  • Supplements:  1/2 of a once daily multivitamin, 1 fish oil pill
Lunch*
half of my Super Smoothie (I save the second half for the next day).
  • supplements:  1 tsp powdered magnesium mixed with water
Dinner
I’ll eat what my wife cooks for the family most nights, otherwise, I make a salad or a tuna melt (see? not 100% vegetarian)
  • other 1/2 of my daily multivitamin, a cap full of apple cider vinegar mixed with water and I chug it (it’s awful)
* sometimes I switch breakfast and lunch when I’m feeling rebellious.
Other stuff
6 brazil nuts each day
1/4 cup of sunflower seeds each day
1 gallon of water
Restrictions
no eggs
no dairy
no white bread (except on pizza night)
almost no pork or red meat
minimal stuff from a box or package
What’s that old saying …keep it simple, stupid.