Clock Project Update

It’s been a month and four days, but I finally was notified this morning that my grandfather clock kit has shipped. I imagine they had to mill all the wood parts from scratch (which is fine, better than them being mass produced), then blow the glass and all of that.

I expect the kit to arrive in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I’ve procured all the required finishing materials (stain, clear coat, glue), clock mechanism and chime rods.

I should be able to hit the ground running when everything gets in, and for the most time intensive part of the construction I’m going to try to take a few vacation days so I can work right through it. It’ll definitely make the process easier.

Anyway, wish me luck as I embark on this project.

Chime Rods vs. Tubular Bell Chimes – Which To Choose?

As I await the rest of my grandfather clock kit to arrive and thus start building, here’s something to think about if you’re considering a grandfather clock: chime rods vs. chime tubes.

Each, of course, has their pluses and minuses as well as a totally different sound.

Chime rods are more common, less expensive and the movements are generally less temperamental. The sound is softer and mellower than that of tubular chimes, and they have a rather unassuming appearance in the clock case.

Tubular chimes, on the other hand, have a striking and impressive appearance in the back of the case. They tend to be more expensive and the movements can be temperamental at times. Tonally speaking they are louder and brighter, more like church bells.

So which to choose? Budget will of course come into play, but another consideration is space. Tubular bell chimes can be way too much for a small space, while chime rods might be too soft or quiet for a very large venue. Of course, no hard and fast rules apply. Personally I just prefer the mellower sound of chime rods, hence I chose rod chimes for my clock.

Sound samples of each:

Which is your preference?

Four Years with WordPress

So I wake up this morning and I have this waiting for me…

It’s been a wild ride for sure. Little did I know this blog would have set in motion a move, finding love, and have over 500 followers? Who knew it would lead to me finally discovering my hidden Celiac disease and thus correcting that? I never expected any of that.

What’s coming up in year 5? Hopefully more regular posting. As I pull away from the dreaded Facebook more and more (and an incident this week where someone reported my poolside picture and it being initially taken down as offensive was kind of a straw that broke the camels back) I will be here more. I’ll also keep you updated on progress with the clock project – so far I’ve only received the movement and chime rods in the mail. Still waiting for other components.

Anyway, here’s to another year!

My Experience With Neuro-Emotional Technique

If it’s one thing I know all too well it’s pain. Lots and lots of pain. It’s been weighing me down for a long time, to the point it’s taken a toll on not only my mental health, but physical as well. It’s not been fun and it’s been affecting every aspect of my life – work, friendships, relationships, etc.

Several people had suggesting counseling for various demons I carry around, but that just does not work for me. I was forced into counseling as a teenager and it made no difference whatsoever. It was a waste of my time and my parents’ money. I knew that wasn’t an option.

So fastforward to the present. Now that I’ve started a journey to mend my physical health, mending mental health is part of it too as it’s all linked. Counseling isn’t an option, but I need some sort of mental healing. That’s when Laina suggested to me to look into Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET).

I only have limited understanding of what it is or how it works, but what I can tell you is that NET is in no way counseling or talk therapy/psychotherapy. Rather, NET uses elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine and chiropractic care to correct imbalances caused by painful or stressful situations (a better explanation can be found here). You never know what event your body wants to talk about in any given session, but something usually comes up.

Sounds like a bunch of hooey right? Don’t get me wrong, I was skeptical too. VERY skeptical. Alas, I’ve been weighed down by so much shit in my life that I was willing to try anything.

I’ve only had three sessions so far, but here’s what I can tell you – it’s amazing. The experience is incredible. During all three sessions I’ve had some significant event or concept has been “pulled out” – all without telling the practitioner anything major about my past or any painful/stressful memory/life event. One’s body tells the story without much need for verbal cues. It’s almost like an emotional detoxification as it were.

So what do releases feel like? Well they can be varied, but in the end the best way for me to put my experience is that it’s almost like an emotional detachment from that event or memory. It’s still there, but it’s like you’re no longer hurt, angry, etc. about it. It’s just what it is. In the end, I’ve always felt a lot lighter and more relaxed/at peace at the end of a session. Stressful shit does pile up on you and weigh you down after all.

I might not know the hows or whys, but I do know it works and it’s been more effective in just three sessions than years of counseling or talk therapy ever would dream of being. It’s very efficient, and I’m all about efficiency.

So that’s just my experience with NET and I’d highly recommend it to everyone. We all need a good mental/emotional detox as well as physical. I definitely feel better and am in a better place because of it.

Grieving for Gluten (And Other Things)…

When you find out you have an allergy, autoimmune reaction, etc. to a certain food or certain compound in a given food, it’s quite saddening to say the least. Even if you do know it’s for the best, it can really fucking suck.

For me, some days are better than others. Most of the time, I can deal with it just fine. I’ve found gluten-free replacements for all of my favorite foods – Italian, Asian, sushi, pizza, you name it! I definitely do not feel at all deprived on the food spectrum. I’ve found ways to deal with it (as well as my reactions to dairy, oats, amarinth and corn) and still eat all my favorites, using various gluten/grain free breads, pastas, etc.; non-dairy cheeses and ice creams, you name it. In fact, I’d say I eat better now and I enjoy eating and cooking more than I ever have in the past.

Alas, I still find myself sometimes longing for a Bratzel from Flying Saucer (a cheese/beer brat topped giant soft pretzel), a delicious donut, a wood-fired Lucia pizza from Vagabond in my old hometown of Abilene, and above all else, a good stout beer – the last of which still aches my heart that I can’t have anymore. There have been a few times I’ve wanted one so bad I’ve fucking cried.

Last week was a prime example, and I goddamn near caved and cheated on the gluten-free thing. Due to some unfortunate events last week (which were a result of my own doing and I’ll own that – though I don’t want to discuss details), I felt so bad the only thing I wanted was a Bratzel and imperial stout, and I was “this” close to going over to Flying Saucer and getting just that. Luckily, something came up which prevented me from doing that and saved me what could have been days straight of intense pain and suffering (I guess everything does happen for a reason).

The only gluten-free beer I’ve found around here is Redbridge by Anheuser-Busch and it’s no imperial stout. Whether or not you could even brew a gluten-free beer to have the thickness of imperial stout is another question altogether – part of where it gets its thickness is from the gluten itself.

Now, some Google search results have shown some true gluten-free imperial stouts. Alas, most of them are brewed on the west coast, and all of the ones I’ve found contain oats, which lo and behold I also react to. I can’t have those either!!! EFF. EM. ELL.

I guess I should consider myself lucky because I’ve got so much great Texas hill country wine to choose from around here to fill that void, but damn, wine just ain’t the same. I love wine, don’t get me wrong, and I would often choose it over beer back in my beer drinking days, but when you crave a beer it’s just a poor substitute.

My old pipe band is having a Burns Supper in a couple of weeks. I can guarantee you nothing there will be Celiac-safe because of the nature of Scottish cuisine. I can’t even enjoy that anymore. At times it’s just too much to handle.

Alas, I know it’s for the best if I stick to it, and in due time I’ll miss these things less. Taking it one day at a time is all I can do, and I guess I’ll just trudge forward, even if a beer or Bratzel is tempting at times.

I’ll be fine, and I can triumph over my cravings, and I will enjoy better health for not giving in. A little emotional pain now is worth not having a lot more of it later (as physical and emotional pain usually go hand in hand).

William Chris Vineyards – Hye, TX

Come with us as we visit one of the largest and most upscale wineries on the Highway 290 corridor for this week’s winery review!

Texas Bite & Sip

Date Visited: 1/4/2020

The William Chris Vineyard is nestled just off the US 290 highway in Hye, Texas, a small unincorporated town in the Texas Hill Country.  Founded in 2008 by William “Bill” Blackmon and Chris Bundrett, two long-experienced winemakers who had each been working for different wineries.  Both had grown dissatisfied and disillusioned with some of the  practices dominating the Texas wine market at the time, and shared a common vision of creating authentic Texas-grown, Texas-made wine to the public (source).

Although this is the largest and most-established winery we’ve been to yet, the signage was–interestingly–rather thin as seen on the highway.  It was there, but not large, and you had to know approximately where the winery was, or otherwise you might miss it.  However, once you turn into the driveway, the signage becomes more plentiful and much clearer.  Upon the first drive-up, one can really get…

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Texas Hills Vineyard – Johnson City, TX

A very Texas-themed winery is the subject of our winery review this week. Join us on our trip to Texas Hills in Johnson City!

Texas Bite & Sip

Date Visited: 1/4/2020

Located just off of US Highway 281 North/290 West on Ranch-to-Market Road 2766 lies Texas Hills Vineyard, one of the oldest wineries in the area.  Established in 1995 by Gary and Kathy Gilstrap, this tucked away vineyard’s motto is “Wine to share with friends” (source).

The venue is well-signed, starting all the way out on the major highway intersection with a blue sign pointing you in the direction of the vineyard.  Once on RM 2766, it is very well-signed with a gate and hours of operation; you can’t miss it.  The driveway is long and leads you into a large, semi-paved (hard-packed gravel) parking lot with limited handicap parking available, and plenty of spaces close to the entrance across a short, solid wooden footbridge.  The venue is equipped with both a few stairs and a sloping ramp off to the side, for greater accessibility.



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When Bad Decisions Add Up…

I’ll be 33 in 2 months and two weeks. I’ll have been a legal adult for 15 years by that point. If I had my way, I’d have been working in the airline industry for 10 years now (minimum age to be an airline pilot is 23, and the flight time requirements to get in as a First Officer at a regional carrier were much less stringent then than they are now) and by this point I’d either be a senior Captain at said regional airline and ready to move up to a junior First Officer position at a major, if not already in a junior FO position with a major. That’s IF I had taken the course I had planned for me.

Well, as we all know that didn’t come to fruition, because at the time the FAA listed autism spectrum disorders as an automatic disqualification from airworthiness. Times have changed, and now the FAA considers them on a case-by-case basis, but it’s way too late for me. I’m shut out.

Now, I’m under no illusion that airline life is somehow all rainbows and roses. I know it ain’t. It’s a cutthroat business – busy and demanding schedules, a lot of time away from home, lots of paperwork, you name it. There’s a reason the airline industry is exempt from right-to-work laws and why in that industry you can still be forced to join a labor union in all 50 states in the US.

Anyway, being shut out of that led to a series of horrible decisions and why I’m where I’m at now in my professional life. My first intention was to get into horology (clock/watch repair). There was a little shop in Abilene that did that, the owner who called himself “The Clock Doc” was an elderly, yet very unassuming and kind man. I came close to asking him for an apprenticeship and was going to, but was pushed by family and academia into going to college instead. I should have stood my ground.

Needless to say I did not. I went to college, racked up tens of thousands in debt, graduated with a degree that’s all but worthless unless you want to teach, but that’s what I decided I would do so that didn’t much matter. Well, I did wind up a teacher – one year at the high school level followed by two years of teaching at the university level while in grad school. I was good at it, sure, but didn’t really much like it. It didn’t pay that well either.

So I left grad school, even more in debt. When you have an all but worthless degree (mathematics) AND you’re on the autism spectrum – your employment prospects are limited at best, and that showed – being either unemployed or underemployed from January 2012 thru August 2015. By some stretch of unusual luck in what has been a very unlucky life, I managed to get a start into the crane industry as a heavy lift engineer.

And that’s where I’m at today, still. I’ve changed companies once, but nothing has changed as far as my job goes. It’s not a terrible job, pays a bit better than teaching, but there’s still no excitement there.

Make no mistake –  I am not a state licensed professional engineer. My job title might have “engineer” in it but that doesn’t mean I’m a P.E. Nor can I be with my current education – my degree is in straight math, not an engineering discipline. Guess I fucked myself over even more in college too didn’t I?

Had my degree been in engineering instead of math, I could have been a P.E. by the end of August as the requirements are 5 years working under an existing P.E. and a bachelor’s degree in an engineering field. Man would that be nice – I’d make double what I’m making now.

Now, there is still one option available to me to obtain a P.E. license – I would have to go back to school and obtain 20 hours of engineering classes and work under a licensed P.E. for a total of 8 years. I’m at almost 4.5 right now. I still have 3.5 to go, scraping by on what I’m making now, and even less because now I have tuition to afford, plus balancing my full-time job on top of school, among other things. You see where this is going – it simply is not feasible, not to mention I have no desire to even go back to school. I hate school. I pretty much suck at it too – I’m a very mediocre student. I should have never gone.

So where does that put me? Well, this job is all I really know. Well, that and teaching. I’m shoehorned into one or the other, and the latter is not palatable to me in any way. So this is my reality, unless I venture into self-employment, which is also not really feasible as I can’t bank enough to have enough capital to sink into starting one and getting a business loan is tough, not to mention then you’re in major debt to a bank. In that light, that door is also permanently closed.

Sure, I was on fire about it last year, but after I took my rose-colored glasses off I realized I was deluding myself. It will never happen. It can never happen. What the fuck was I even thinking? Holy fucking shit, I go back and read those posts I wrote at the end of March/beginning of April last year and I want to fucking vomit at my own stupidity and delusion.

Alas, I realize that there is only one person to blame for my situation. That person is myself. I fucked up hard, and I’m paying the price and will be for the rest of my life.

The only good thing to come out of my delusion? Relocation. That much I do not regret. That might be the only good decision I’ve ever made. Though I’ll never have a satisfying career, at least I found love again, and that counts for more than a job, career or business ever will.

Oh, and I’ve got my pick of wineries around here I can go to in order to drown my depression. At least I can afford some level of escape. 



Kuhlman Cellars – Stonewall, TX

Our kickoff blog features a nice, homey winery in Stonewall. Enjoy!

Texas Bite & Sip

Date Visited: 12/29/2019

Kuhlman Cellars is situated in the Texas Hill Country along US Highway 290 just outside of Stonewall (between Johnson City and Fredericksburg).  Founded by Chris and Jennifer Cobb, they opened to the public in October of 2014 and is named for Kuhlman Creek which originates on their family farm and is a feeder for the larger Pedernales River (source).  Their winemaker is from France and makes wine in the French tradition, with Texas-grown grapes of course.

When we pulled up, the winery was well-signed from the roadway – you just could not miss it.  Their hours of operation are posted right on the front gate.  We arrived a few minutes before opening, but the gates were already open so we proceeded into the non-paved yet smooth, open, and ample parking lot with logs designating parking spaces, as well as two handicap parking spots with ample…

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New Blog: Texas Bite & Sip

Hello my friends!

In my last post I eluded to a potential new blog for Texas eatery and winery reviews. Today, that blog was born: Texas Bite & Sip!

Texas Bite & Sip is a collaboration between myself and Laina Eartharcher. In this blog, we will visit and review a variety of Texas restaurants, wineries, dives, etc. together – each giving our own perspective. We might agree or agree-to-disagree, but we’ll give it to you straight from our respective viewpoints.

We do not pretend to be experts in this field, just everyday people like you who want a down-to-earth review. That’s what you’ll find.

If you are interested and so inclined, please visit and follow! The site is still under construction, but hopefully we’ll have our first review live in the very near future.