Saturday, March 16, 2013

Barbecue folks- BPOE- Best People on Earth

The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks might think they have dibs on the acronym BPOE standing both for their name as well as what they think of their membership, but I am here to tell you they do not corner the market when it comes to having some mighty fine folks within their midst. Now I am not saying they don’t have some great people in their organization, on the contrary, what I am trying to say here is barbecue folks are some darn good people too.

In my short time dabbling in the competition barbecue circuit I can honestly say I have met some really nice people. Many of whom I am proud to call friends. The most interesting phenomenon I have observed is it is pretty much a gimme that while at a contest, you don’t have a lot of “free” time on your hands. You spend a relatively short period of time in person socializing with others, as people including yourself are often times busy with their own contest setup and prep.

But when you do have those fleeting moments to chat, it is as if you having been having conversations around the pit for years, and these are folks that you only see in person a few times a year. Now I realize that people communicate more than they used to with today’s social media, email and text messaging, but you get my point. Easy to talk to would be an understatement.

To further support my contention I can honestly state that I have personally observed teams that are always in the hunt to win giving advice and tips to new and or struggling teams at a contest. I have also watched as they genuinely cheer for and encourage the rest of the field at awards time. I have seen pitmasters with multiple awards under their belts walk through and entire contest grounds personally wishing the other teams good luck with their cook before the first turn-in.

Have you ever been to a contest and forgotten something or had a piece of equipment break or fail, I have observed this on numerous occasions and watched as other teams pulled together to make repairs or loan equipment to allow the affected team to participate. I have seem examples of teams flying in to cook a contest in another state and other teams bringing extra gear and supplies so they can cook.

I could devote an entire column on the good deeds done across the Country by barbecue folks, their organizations and charities and still probably not mention them all. If you don’t believe me, take a look around at the next big weather event or natural disaster and see if you can count the number of free meals served up by the blue smoke army. You’ll be impressed I assure you.

Additionally I have made the acquaintance of judges, contest reps, event organizers, as well as sanctioning body representatives and family members of opposing teams, good people all around I tell you. I have even been approached while at a contest or sent an email by a complete stranger (not for long) who has taken time to comment (both good and bad) on my columns and other scribblings. It makes me feel good to know someone is reading my stuff and even better to know they have enjoyed something I have written. Thanks for that folks. Many times, I find those conversations or email exchanges can become lengthy, as if we had been friends for years, and in a way, I think we have.

I guess what I am trying to say here is if you spend any time at all around the game of competition barbecue or even barbecue in general, I guarantee you’ll meet some mighty nice folks. I am thinking what we need here is a slogan or mantra like the Elks use without infringing on any copyright violations or getting any lawyers involved. I have noodled around with the idea for a while and as of today, have done nothing more than fill a scratch pad and make myself chuckle.

My acronym of BHSOTBPOE (barbecue has some of the best people on earth) is a bit long and makes little sense without the words being included. The phrase would be a little long for a bumper sticker and could possibly cause accidents as other drivers tried to get close enough to read the fine print so they would know what you are talking about.

So I guess it is back to the drawing board to come up with a catchy slogan that we can use to get our message across. It’s a good thing that the 2013 competition season is getting under way, I look forward to seeing my old friends and making new ones as well. Perhaps we can put our heads together and come up with something we can use, something catchy, something like, I’ll get by with a little help from my friends, but something tells me that too has already been used. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Maryland: get out my wallet or get out of town?

Do you consider yourself fortunate to reside in the great State of Maryland, I used to. We have the ocean, farm fields, hills and mountains, some even call this “America in Miniature.” I myself have called Maryland my home for my entire life, but I am here to tell you, I am giving serious consideration to pulling stakes and moving on.

A statement such as this begs the question why? The answer is simple, Governor Martin “I wannabe the President” O’Malley and the rest of his henchmen which I have affectionately dubbed the Thieves on the Severn. Their collective lust for power, privilege and our money never ceases to amaze me. A shining example is the recent proposal to increase the tax that we, the citizenry currently pay for a gallon of gasoline.

Currently, we pay approximately 25 cents of every gallon in taxes,(approximately $6.25 every fill up) which judging from the latest claptrap out of Annapolis, just isn’t enough. Now through a series of smoke and mirror statements and news releases, they are trying to convince us, the hard working taxpayers of this state how paying more in taxes will be to our benefit and to the benefit of the greater good. To that I say BALDERDASH.

I recently read a document Marty sent out trying to drum up support for his latest money grab where The Governor begins by calling us his friend. That is the first mistake. Remember one of the first rules of being a parent is remembering you are the parent and not your kids friend? The same principles should apply here if not more, O’Malley is a person elected to do a job for the constituency, he is NOT MY FRIEND.

One thing Marty is however is a wordsmith. Right out of the Politician 101 handbook he invokes family and children into his heartwarming plea while telling us, “as a people, we spend $6.2 billion each year due to deteriorated roads and traffic.” Now I realize that Martin spends no time in traffic because his taxpayer funded SUV is equipped with a State Police driver and emergency equipment which is used to speed his eminence around the state without regard to the traffic the rest of us have to sit in. But I am quite sure he at least has to travel on the same roads that we do. I don’t know your opinion, but overall, I think the roads here in Maryland are in pretty good shape, especially when compared to some of the other states I have traveled in.

You’ll also notice how he says their brilliant money grab is going to “support 44,000 jobs” in the State. What does this mean? Your guess is as good as mine as I find the  exact same claim of “supporting 44,000 jobs” in at least 4 other places in propaganda I mean documents used to support the thieves contention.

Some of the other things concerning this proposal you would be interested to know is while they claim to be lowering the state tax on gas by 5 cents a gallon, they are in reality raising the price we will pay at the pump by a) indexing the tax to inflation and b) by applying a sales tax to the wholesale cost of gasoline.

I suppose we should all feel better knowing that they are only going to be taxing the big, nasty oil companies with their plan to apply a sales tax to the wholesale side of fuel as opposed to the retail side where we, the taxpaying consumer would feel it. You don’t have to be an economic wizard (as I am surely not) to know that if the oil company’s cost of a wholesale gallon goes up, they are most surely are going to pass the cost on to the consumer dontcha think. O’Malleys play here will be to blame the oil companies, not him, I wonder how he can keep a straight face?

Oh, and they are telling us they are going to put a “lockbox” provision into this newest form of non-armed robbery. This is inserted to make the common man (you and I) think that the monies procured will only be used for transportation purposes. However, their own literature gives them the loophole they need, “The transportation initiative proposed today also contains a “lockbox” provision that outlines a series of requirements that must be met in order to make any transfers from the Transportation Trust Fund, ensuring that revenue generated remains dedicated to transportation.” Gee, I wonder if it would be possible to ever use the money elsewhere? I believe O’Malley and senate President Mike Miller when they say the newly generated income will be in a secure “lockbox,” for the record, I also believe in the Easter Bunny.

Which brings me to a couple of questions of which I do not find the answers to in all of their slickly worded documents.

1)         Where is the money that was supposed to be in the Transportation fund and what special circumstance existed when the money was removed and squandered elsewhere?
2)         Last year they raised the tolls on all of the State’s highways, bridges and tunnels claiming that money was needed for the transportation fund, where has all of that money gone?
3)         Why not use some of the money we were told was going to be pouring into the State with the increased gaming supported by O’Mally and his forty thieves.
4)         How could our great state, which has been in the control of the democrats for the last 50 years or so, a party of which the boy wonder is a proud card carrying member, let our roads and bridges get into, what they now tell us is such deplorable condition? Surely it is the fault of Republican Governor Robert Erlich who occupied the governor’s mansion for a whole 4 years without any cooperation at all from the democratically controlled Statehouse. Can you say legalizing slots?

My questions if asked, would fall on deaf ears or be answered with a non-answer I am sure. The problem is Martin O’Mally is too busy resume building to worry about anything other than himself. He gallivants around the country jumping in front of anyone with a camera in his quest for the address of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Maryland residents be damned.

He paints himself as some sort of a progressive, caring, greeniac who is only concerned with the welfare of the common good and oh yea, and the children. He is a big advocate of wind power don’t you know? Oh, what I’ll bet you do not know is Michael Enright, O’Mallys former chief of staff is the managing director for the company that stands to get the contract for installing the wind generators off the shores of Ocean City, which of course will be subsidized by you guessed it, YOU AND I!

My head hurts, and so does my wallet as well as my, well let’s just call it my backside. I have to tell you, I never ever thought I would hear myself utter these words, I love it here, but I am getting sore and tired. Every year I have to work harder and harder to bring home less and less while these dolts in Annapolis and Washington from both sides of the isle continue to pick my pocket for the sole reason to use my hard earned money to keep themselves in office. I have had enough and have begun to explore my options.

Meanwhile, I see Martin O’Mally is scheduled to appear on Face the Nation again this weekend while he touts his latest progressive agenda and alleged accomplishments all in his quest to occupy the White House. I will watch with interest as the next 4 years unfold and he spars with Hillary for the top slot on the democratic presidential ticket. I am sure, if he is denied in 2016, the party will work out some type of deal for him, a Senate seat perhaps. Hopefully, by the time that occurs, Maryland will be nothing but a bad memory for me and my wallet. In the immortal words of Popeye, I‘ve had all I can stand and I can’t stands no more.