It's beginning to feel a lot like....Wednesday

This time of year is different for everyone I guess.  How we feel about the the "Holiday Season" is shaped pretty strongly by our past experiences, our childhood memories, and in some cases unfortunately family drama.  My Christmas memories are pretty full of all three to be honest, but it has always been a time of year when I was excited.  I was eager to see if I made the right gift choice for a loved one.  I was anticipating vacation time with the family, even if it just meant more time sitting home playing games or watching TV together.  I couldn't wait for the feast that was Christmas Dinner, and the traditions that came with it like my Mom's ambrosia salad or my Uncle's Strudel. 

This year the holidays are here, and it doesn't feel like I'm two days before Christmas.  We've got the tree up, but at this point we haven't even gotten any presents under it.  Carrie and I have gotten some of what we wanted to get for the kids this year, but have been so busy with critical issues over the last few weeks that shopping has fallen off the radar.   

Christmas dinner, a Fat Boy's holy meal holds no promise this year with a restricted diet eliminating 75% of the food I would be looking forward to on our dinner table.  If I was feeling better for it I probably wouldn't sound so resentful saying that, but after a week the digestive problems restrictions are supposed to be solving aren't improved and even more foods are being eliminated from my diet. 

Old friends and family are still grieving the loss of a close friend from my school days who's decline started around Thanksgiving and whom passed on December 4th.  As I write this my Mother-in-law is asleep in a chair at the hospital bedside of her husband, and I'm getting ready to head back to the hospital to join them while we try to find answers as to why my father-in-law who really has become "Dad" in the 16 years of my marriage had a series of seizures last night after several strokes in the last couple of months.  

With his condition as serious as it is I've spent much of the last two days preparing myself that he might not make it to Christmas.   I've had to hold volunteers together at the pantry we run as a family and church body, weighing keeping volunteers (who have become like family to all of us) informed, against the immediate family's need for SOME privacy and the need to keep things on track so that the more than 200 families that depend on is for food every week aren't adding food to their list of burdens this Christmas week. 

With all of this going on its easy to justify why the "Joy of the Season" seems to be in short supply.  Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers this week.  I'm heading back to the hospital, you have a Merry Christmas everyone.

Yesterday was an off day around here....

I said goodbye to an old friend yesterday.  In some ways it was exactly what I thought it would be.  Not much has changed in the funeral mass of the Catholic Church since the 2nd Vatican council approved the move to an English mass after all.

Other things  (mostly people), surprised me.  People who I never would have bet against making it were missing for a variety of reasons.  People I don't remember having a kind words for Packy in High School were crying like it was their son and not Tom and Sally's first born that was taken much too young.

I understand no one knows what to say all the time at these things.  I knew his mother just needed a lot of hugs, because she reached for one any time I was within arm's reach.  She also needed to know she wasn't losing all contact with us just because he was gone.  One thing I have come to realize over the years since high school is that there are some relationships that just ARE. I had not seen Sally in more than twenty years when I walked into that church yesterday, but the hug I received and the obvious thankfulness that I had made it there to be with the family didn't need explanation.  

With his Dad, who had lost his firstborn son and with whom I should have been able to empathize, I know I came off sounding like a freshman on one of his intro to journalism classes.  We had a strong student-teacher dynamic in school but it wasn't very deep or personal.  Why is the first thing we ask "How are you doing?" Or "Are you ok?"????  Shouldn't we know the answers to those two questions without opening our mouths and looking like morons?  We say them anyway, especially or maybe because we don't know what else to say when we know Ok is at a minimum weeks away, and there is still a lot of shock and grief for us all to work through before we can really know how we are coping with this loss.

On one side of the gymnasium we had a family clearly grieving.  Sisters, brothers, aunts, and uncles.  Among them were a scattering of good friends that either now or at various times in the past felt like part of the family.  We were standing around sharing stories about Patrick that made us laugh or cry.  Often stories that needed to be protected and remembered but not amplified by the PA system.  From this group came a stream of people to the microphone to share stories with a wider audience  about the amazing and complex person who the world had lost.

On the other side of the room were a lot of Packy's former classmates, probably some friends and associates from work.  Those who felt for whatever reason socially obligated to be there.  They hit the buffet line, and milled around in the corner furthest from the PA so there was less chance anyone would ask them to say a few words. 

We're all supposed to be adults now.  All around forty (some much older) with lives, jobs, and many of us with kids of our own.  Yet to hear half of the conversation my peers had today you would think they were still living in fraternity houses.  The number of people talking about parties I threw in the early '90s shocked me, and some of the best parts were my knowledge that the guy talking was no where near my party that night.  I hate to reduce myself to a variation on a pop culture reference that will be dated before most people read this post, but - Do you even funeral bro??

As things were winding down I was going to get together with some of the guys for some drinks and reality intruded.  My daughter started texting me about power flickering and water dripping from the ceiling. 

I get home and the dogs are barking, and product is waiting in boxes to be reviewed.  I opened the first and it's candy, and in my mood that works great.  It is a sample pack from a local confectionery we have reviewed before, The Candy Basket.  This sampler contains Red Velvet Fudge, Pecan Rolls, and Divinity.  All are done to perfection, and arrived fresh and soft to my door..  I can also confirm that they all pair well with both Teeling Irish Whiskey and Barterhouse 20yo Bourbon from the Orphan Barrel Collection that I also have sitting there needing to review.  I know, I have a hard job sometimes.

The sampler from The Candy Basket includes from left to right Divinity, Pecan Rolls, and Red Velvet Fudge  

The sampler from The Candy Basket includes from left to right Divinity, Pecan Rolls, and Red Velvet Fudge  

I know it looks like a problem, but the flasks in this picture are water bottles from FRED Flask.  Look for a full review of them soon. 

I know it looks like a problem, but the flasks in this picture are water bottles from FRED Flask.  Look for a full review of them soon. 

The Teeling you've probably seen reviewed here before.  It is by far my favorite everyday Irish Whiskey and for good reason.  The sweetness it gains from its time in Caribbean rum casks truly set it apart.

Barterhouse is an extremely limited edition, bottled by hand from "Orphaned Barrels" 

Barterhouse is an extremely limited edition, bottled by hand from "Orphaned Barrels" 

The Barterhouse Orphan Barrel release is something that you don't find every day, and I am telling you right now, you better start looking.  Several barrels were found in the back corner of an old rickhouse outside of Tullahoma, KY after sitting forgotten for almost twenty years.  What begins on the nose as honey and biscuits along side faint hints of buttercream opens up into bold roasted grain, mellow toasted tobacco and marshmallow to compliment the subtle smoke from the barrel and finishes with hints of nutmeg and brown sugar.  Never have I tasted a bourbon that was at once as complex and as smooth, especially after twenty some years in the barrel.  I'm going to have to hunt some more down, because I don't want ever reach for this and find the bottle empty.

So, that was another day in Fat Boy Heaven.  Sorry if it started a little bit too personal and uncomfortable.  I've decided that the only way I can write is to actually engage my mind, that means sometimes the truth as I know it might hit your screen. 

My love, prayers, condolences, and thanks go out to the Eichsteadt/Mitcheltree clan.  We all shared in the joy and happiness Patrick brought into our lives, thank you again for allowing us to join you in saying goodbye.

Ve con Dios old friend. 

Ve con Dios old friend. 

Monthly boxes of random coolness (and sometimes crap)

I realized as I was sitting in the dentists office waiting for my son and daughter to finish that it had been a while since I had posted anything about the random unsolicited boxes of products I have received.

Some of these boxes I expect every month from subscription services hoping for publicity like the great folks at GeekBox and Wet Shave Club.  Others show up out of the blue, like the tshirt and sweatshirt that arrived with the "Last Star Fighter" logo shortly after I reposted an article about a sequel to that amazing movie being in the works.  Sometimes the contents are worth keeping, sometimes they are worth passing on to Jimmie and other friends, or handing to the wife and kids. Once in a while they are barely worth the room they take up in the trash can. 

Here come the pictures and descriptions, I'll come back through when I get time and add links where I can tomorrow.  Enjoy! 

This liquor infusion kit from TongueSpank Spice Co. was a welcome arrival

This liquor infusion kit from TongueSpank Spice Co. was a welcome arrival

This hoodie and matching tee came from the production folks behind the new Last Starfighter movie

This hoodie and matching tee came from the production folks behind the new Last Starfighter movie

These are just some of the tees to arrive from the guys at pop-up-tees this month

These are just some of the tees to arrive from the guys at pop-up-tees this month

Zac Brown Band sent us a few copies of their newest album.  If you haven't yet, buy it now. 

Zac Brown Band sent us a few copies of their newest album.  If you haven't yet, buy it now. 

May's monthly box from the guys at Birchbox included no-show liners from the folks at Taft in addition to the normal variety of grooming samples

May's monthly box from the guys at Birchbox included no-show liners from the folks at Taft in addition to the normal variety of grooming samples

This month finally brought the release of the Nüüd for iPhone 6 Plus from the folks at Lifeproof.  I've been amazed at how long it has taken some companies to get precision manufactured cases on the market for the 6 Plus, but this is by far the most durable case you will find, especially when combined with a ballistic glass screen protector. 

This month finally brought the release of the Nüüd for iPhone 6 Plus from the folks at Lifeproof.  I've been amazed at how long it has taken some companies to get precision manufactured cases on the market for the 6 Plus, but this is by far the most durable case you will find, especially when combined with a ballistic glass screen protector. 

GeekFUEL's theme this month was Teams, and featured items surrounding comic and movie teams like the Avengers and TMNT

GeekFUEL's theme this month was Teams, and featured items surrounding comic and movie teams like the Avengers and TMNT

As I've written about before, one of the most important items in my gear bag is a large battery pack to keep my devices charged.  This aluminum number from EliteBuy was on sale for just $30 on Amazon and is rated at 10000mAh, or around four full charges for your iPhone.  The color didn't win me over but construction was solid

As I've written about before, one of the most important items in my gear bag is a large battery pack to keep my devices charged.  This aluminum number from EliteBuy was on sale for just $30 on Amazon and is rated at 10000mAh, or around four full charges for your iPhone.  The color didn't win me over but construction was solid

This pack from Aukey, who are quickly becoming one of my favorite accessory companies was on sale for $20 when they sent it for review.  It features auto sensing technology that adjusted the output on the USB ports to charge devices as quickly as they would take power, and more importantly reduce output when your device gets closer to fully charged or is a lower powered device.  Very important to prevent overheating, especially when they are carried together in a gear bag. 

This pack from Aukey, who are quickly becoming one of my favorite accessory companies was on sale for $20 when they sent it for review.  It features auto sensing technology that adjusted the output on the USB ports to charge devices as quickly as they would take power, and more importantly reduce output when your device gets closer to fully charged or is a lower powered device.  Very important to prevent overheating, especially when they are carried together in a gear bag. 

This cool tabletop BX Bluetooth speaker from GoGroove is part of their BlueSYNC line.  While it's dual drivers and multiple input sources are pretty standard, and it's wood grain finish helps it fit in nicely on my night stand, GoGroove is hopeful that what will set this product line apart from the masses is the addition of a removable and rechargeable battery that is interchangeable with the other speakers in the lineup. 

This cool tabletop BX Bluetooth speaker from GoGroove is part of their BlueSYNC line.  While it's dual drivers and multiple input sources are pretty standard, and it's wood grain finish helps it fit in nicely on my night stand, GoGroove is hopeful that what will set this product line apart from the masses is the addition of a removable and rechargeable battery that is interchangeable with the other speakers in the lineup. 

The newest kid on the "lets throw together a box of stuff geeks and fanboys will like every month and see if they will pay to get surprised" block is NerdBlock, and they didn't do too bad with their first box.  I'll reserve final judgment on the company as a service until we get six months in, but I'm not upset by what I've seen yet. 

The newest kid on the "lets throw together a box of stuff geeks and fanboys will like every month and see if they will pay to get surprised" block is NerdBlock, and they didn't do too bad with their first box.  I'll reserve final judgment on the company as a service until we get six months in, but I'm not upset by what I've seen yet. 

The Foldio 2 from the folks at Orange Monkie is the perfect mobile photo studio

The Foldio 2 from the folks at Orange Monkie is the perfect mobile photo studio

Well, that was most of the assorted stuff that came in May.  I have some other reviews to get caught up on, and some great recipes to post for you guys.  Stay tuned. 

Life in Fat Boy Heaven

Sorry posts have been so slow in the last couple of weeks.  My father in law came through surgery fine, and is now in short term rehab for a few days while he gets his strength back.   Until Tuesday that meant a lot of driving across town to the hospital to fit around normal life.

Now that life is back closer to normal I can get things caught up.  I'll have some amazing dinners from the last couple of weeks including a Bacon wrapped Blackberry Pork Loin Roast I'm particularly proud of from last night coming your way, as well as reviews of everything from cigars and humidors, to Whisky from the folks at Caskers.com, new journaling systems from BulletJournal.com via their Kickstarter project, and  clothes from Ript Apparel and Dickies.  It's going to be a busy weekend.

Remember last month when I said it was a big year?

I'm lying awake tonight, and as tired as I am after a full day working at The Pantry unloading trucks, stocking shelves, and then doing the other hundred things my father-in-law Alden and Mother-in-law Linda do there while they spent the bulk of their day at the hospital I'm not sure as we near two if sleep is possible tonight.

In about five hours my Father-in-law will enter a surgical OR for a valve and aortic replacement.  The surgeon will literally be replacing nearly a quarter of his heart!  This is major surgery, especially for a 75yo with long history of heart problems.   Ever since the aneurysm that necessitates this procedure was found six weeks ago as both a church body and a family we have been praying that God's will be done to heal him. All along we have felt reminded by the Spirit that sometimes God uses the hands of skilled surgeons in that healing. 

So here we are: In three hours the rest of the family will get Alden checked in while I am home praying and getting ready to go back into the Pantry to make sure that things continue to run smoothly there while waiting for news from that hospital 12 miles away. 

I spoke to Dad tonight for the last time before surgery and he fealt at peace with the surgery moving forward.  The entire family is concerned, obviously at different levels.

My feelings are hard to describe as I lay here writing this.   You see, a little over 13 years ago my father went in for open heart surgery.  30 days later we had lost him.  Part of me really wants to be at that hospital to support my wife and her family, but a big part of me feels guilty that I'm glad I don't have to face that tortuous wait again, because I know I'll spend most of it thinking of my Dad.

I know this is all in Gods hands.  I know the only practical solution is for me to rest and be ready to fill Alden's shoes at the pantry for the next few weeks while he recovers, especially tomorrow while everyone is adjusting to his absence.  Now if I could get my body to cooperate. 

If it comes to mind between 7:00am and 12:00pm PDT your prayers and positive thoughts would be greatly appreciated. 

Apple Store Problems

As anyone who knows me can attest, I have for more than 12 years been a very Large Apple fan. Going to work for AppleCare in 2007 was a dream come true, and leaving to launch this site and Fatboyheaven.com was a very hard decision.

I set the stage thus to let you know that in this light the fact that my experience with Apple today has me re-thinking my love of this company. I placed an order for in-store pickup of the new iPad Air last night, and was given a guaranteed pickup of today. I have been in the Apple Store since receiving an alert almost 2 hours ago informing me that my order was ready for pickup. The iPad with a crisp white label and my name is here in the store managers hands, but I am leaving without an iPad today. Something has gone wrong in the system that transmits online orders to the store, and my order is stuck in a limbo state to the point that no one in the company can even cancel it.

For a company that is renowned (and often heralded by myself and this website) to have a failure of this magnitude is ludicrous.

I was hoping to have a hands on review up for you all to read today, but I am not likely to have an iPad in my hands before the store closes tonight.

For this I apologize deeply, and hope that I have something to review at some later time.

Big Drew's Redneck Tech Sale

Ok Folks, I am running out of room in my den for all of the review units I recieve.  My lack of space is your gain, as I have a ton of things to get rid of that will appeal to a wide range of readers.  Below is the list with what I believe to be fair market value:

Redneck Tech Sale

iPad 3 - 64GB, LTE Verizon - $500
Microsoft Surface - 64GB w/ Touch Cover - $450
Impossible Lab w/ 3 packages of film - KickStarter Edition - $200
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 16GB with White Leather case - $350
Pinball Duo iPad Pinball Controller - $15
iCade iPad Arcade controller - $85
Blackberry Playbook 64GB - $175
Sphero remote controlled ball - $75
OUYA Video Game System - KickStarter Edition - $150
Hype Bluetooth speaker phone - $25
Infinitec TV Stick - KickStarter Edition - $100
iCade Duo Atari arcade controller - $15
Virgin Mobile Mi-Fi - $50
Sega Genesis Arcade Nano - Virtua Fighter Edition - $15
Poloroid Z340 digital camera (14.1 Megapixel) with built in zInk printer - $300
NuMark TTusb Turntable - $100
Dozens of iPad and iPad mini cases - $15-$55 each
6 Disc DVD Duplicator - $450
lomography Smartphone Film Scanner - $50
iD America Crosslink multi-cable (has Micro USB, 30 Pin, and Lightning adapter) - $15/each
6-String mini guitar kit - $65
Kobo Reader eInk ebook device - $25
12 Boxes 1991 ProSet Super Stars Musi-cards (10 series I, 2 series II) - $35/box

 

 

 

Please comment on this site with questions and offers.

iPhone 5S Launch day

OK, I've had a chance to rest a bit after leaving at 2am to line up for the iPhone 5S release, and was fortunate to come away with a new phone!
As major news sites have reported, supplies are severely limited for this thing at launch, with internet sales being pushed out 7-21 days within hours of its availability.
At the AT&T store I picked again this year, supplies were very low. Silver and Gold versions, as well as the largest 64GB variants were not available at all.
New shipments should be coming in regularly from now on, but don't expect to walk into a store and find one this weekend.
So far I have been very impressed by the speed if the new A7 processor, and have had no problems with the fingerprint reader used to unlock the new phone.
Benchmark tests have been run by all of the major Tech blogs, with the most thorough testing as always done by anandtech. This phone is faster than any other phone on the market, easily blowing away the competition from the Android set, including the former leader, Samsung's international G IV.
If you already have an iPhone 5 you will notice the speed immediately, and if you are still using a 4 or 4S, run to the nearest store that has this phone in stock.