I started writing "Random Thoughts" earlier in the summer. I couldn't quite get anything organized into a meaningful stream of thoughts, so I started jotting down
fragments. Six months later, some are relevant, some aren't so much. I massaged them a bit, added some, and submit this article for your holiday
reading. I've included dates to give a point of reference.

June 29, 2006

Why are you nervous the days leading up to a contest? You've doubled checked lists,
you've got a handle on what needs done, you know how to pack, you have your meat, you know how to get
there. Yet you pace like a caged tiger.

Why is it so difficult to communicate with the meat cutters? I either can't communicate due to language barriers, or I get the
"I know all about meat and how to cook it better than everyon" attitude.

July 2, 2006

Why, why, WHY can't all four categories click at the same time? Why I ask, why?

Ever wonder how this "hobby" got so out of control? One cooker led to two.  Two led to
three. Three WSMs led to an FE. One canopy isn't good enough. Two is better. Maybe three is
best. Maybe an RV is the ticket. Tell me you haven't had those thoughts.

Ever wonder why you are so introverted in your everyday life the closer it gets to BBQ competition day, but when you arrive at a contest, this different person is released.

I wonder how much sleep I've lost because of the BBQ adventure? Cooking, prepping, packing, thinking,
tinkering. Guess I'll do without.

July 6, 2006 (just before Shannon)

I kind of like cooking back to back weekends a Newbie first for me. Not sure the family has the same feelings, but they are troopers and tag along
anyway.

July 10, 2006 (just after Shannon)

Why, why, WHY can't all four categories click at the same time? Why I ask, why?

Wonder what it would be like cooking three weekends in a row. Have a good feeling what the family would say to that.

9, 9, 9, 8, 8, 5. Need I say more?

How long do you consternate over the scores of the day. As exhausted as I was on Saturday, there I was at 11:30pm, still trying to figure out pork scores.

Why, why, WHY can't all four categories click at the same time? Why I ask, why?

Corn fields, Shannon, sun rise a little piece of heaven.

Those newbie teams that got called this weekend now the hook is set HA! You're in this for the long haul
now.

Watermelon pie that sounds goooooood.

Unless you win Grand Champion, are you ever satisfied with how you did?

August 2, 2006 (preparing for Waucoma)

How do I fit an FE100, all my competition stuff, AND all our camping gear into a Dodge Grand
Caravan? Enterprise car rental!

An FE100 looks much bigger on its side than it does standing up.

Waucoma – I wonder how many people in Iowa know where Waucoma is.

August 8, 2006 (after Waucoma)

4 CATEGORIES CLICK FINALLY!!! Still didn't make the fifth walk.

The only way to beat Clone cook where he ain't!!

Is there such thing as a leak proof tent?

Boy, an RV is sure looking nice (see previous thought).

Entry fees, typical. Meat prices typical. Rental van to get family to Waucoma,
expensive. Having your 10yo daughter hold your hand walking back from awards and
say "I like this contest, this is fun" priceless.

August 18, 2006 (before Dubuque)

Wonder if it'll rain this year?

Wonder if the Bobcat is going to be on the prowl this year. Least my FE stands a little better
chance.

August 21, 2006 (after Dubuque)

Whoa the unveiling of the Clonesicle.

I'm a sick man wake up at 6:00a Saturday morning, from a dream where I was in a panic, not about turning in brisket when pork is due, or it being 11:45 and I forgot to cook the chicken, or I trip on the way to turn in
brisket no instead I'm panicking because its 8:30 and I might be missing the "pre-shot" Joey, you have a problem.

No calls humph. 6th, 10th, 6th, 10th frustration and that was damn good BBQ!ERGHHHH!

September 12, 2006

Haven't cooked a competition in a month, but I've cooked more food in that month than I have at all contests combined.

On a plane to go to the AZ desert for work, all I can think about is brisket and ribs, and pork, and that little pecker
food.

Great seeing your buddies going to the Jack! Someday, someday!

5 weeks without a competition is TOO long. I'm convinced I'll go crazy.

September 25, 2006 (just after Bloomington)

70mph wind EZ-ups EZ parachutes is more like it.

7:30pm, Friday September 22, 2006, Bloomington IL Sale barn welcome to BBQ Baghdad.

1st, 1st, 8th, 8th .good enough for 4th getting closer. I can only hope that my first GC will be met with the same enthusiasm that Alex of Dr. Porkenstien exhibited on
Saturday. Now that was excitement!!

3 canopies wasted this year. Dang that wasn't part of the budget.

October 12, 2006

I feel better today. 5 days of a wicked intestinal flu bug. If I hadn't paid my entry for Arthur,
I'd stay home.

October 16, 2006

Bitter cold, should have stayed home! Oh 8th overall, not bad, couple calls, just a tough contest to feel good about.

October 23, 2006 (Just after Libertyville)

That was the best Friday night I've ever had. That's why we BBQ.

Smack talk – boy there's a topic for the blog!!! Need a guest writer for it. Darren? Scottie? Carp? better think about that one.

KRE – good job!

Why, why, why, can't all 4 categories hit. Chicken and ribs, great all year, tank in
Libertyville. All year, couldn't buy a call in pork, Libertyville, 1st place. WHY WHY WHY
can't they all hit $%^@!

October 28, 2006

Scottie did it! Quick phone call to him, learn the true bittersweetness of the
win. BBQ and fairytale ending don't seem to go together, except this time!

December 15, 2006

The sophomore season. Did I meet my expectations? I'm not sure. Did I have fun?
Absolutely. I didn't take my 5th walk, but I certainly learned a lot. Am I happy with our
team's performance, yeah, I guess. Doesn't remove the fact that I "wannab"
better. Biggest lesson of the season, enjoy the camaraderie. I was finally able to relax a bit and genuinely enjoy the company of my fellow
Qers. So maybe that's the lesson of the sophomore, relax, enjoy, and have a good time.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. We'll be grouching about the heat soon
enough.
Joey Mac