Rick passed away June 15.

At this time I would like to thank all you who have been following my husband Rick’s blog.  He had a massive heart attack yesterday and died at age 68.  I will miss Rick dearly and especially his funny sense of humor.  He loved writing and always shared your comments with me.  He was one in a million.  He was a man of God so I know he is in heaven and maybe he’s bass fishing with his buddies who have gone on before him.  Thank you all for following and enjoying his stories.

Maxine Nickolaus

Sneaking In The Cow

When I owned my meat market, I purchased my meat from a wholesaler. This particular wholesaler also supplied meat to restaurants and institutions. I stopped by there almost every morning to pick up something needed. Because I grew to know all the employees I would wonder out on the cutting floor and BS with them. And, of course, I observed their cutting practices.

In my last post I spoke of the use of “bull meat.” Like I said, even though bull meat is just a slang term for fifty pound frozen blocks of super lean meat, it can be any breed of beef, including milk cow, as long as it is super lean. And because most of it is going to be ground up, the age of the animal means absolutely nothing. I mentioned how supermarkets mix this bull meat with their fat trimmings to make regular ground beef. Well the same practice is done by wholesalers who supply restaurants and institutions. But when I said that this economy grade beef is only suitable for ground beef, that was not totally true.

There are cuts such as t-bone, new york, rib, tenderloin and sirloin that are sometimes saved from the grinder, and these steaks can be purchased at a much lower price than USDA choice steaks. The slang term for these steaks is “cow.” Once more, it can be any breed of beef, though I’m sure cow would hit pretty close to home. I mean, what other type of beef would be kept around for years, if not for milking or rearing calves. Are these full loins tough? You bet they are! So how is the problem solved? It’s called a needle machine.

A needle machine is a large block of metal pins on a piston-driven plunger. The full loin of whatever steak is put on a conveyor belt and slowly ran under the multitude of pins. Each time the conveyor belts stops, the pins come down, jabbing thousands of holes through the meat with each drop of the plunger. This breaks down the muscled fiber of the meat, hence, making it artificially tender. Sort of like doing the chewing for you. These loins may be repeatedly run through this machine two or three times. After this process is done, the loins are then cut into individual steaks. Though my wholesale did sell a lot of this economy grade cow, I should mention that most of the restaurants purchased grade choice steaks. And though I purchased my grade choice beef by the quarters and broke them down myself, I often ran low on certain cuts while having plenty of the others. That was when I would buy individual loins from my wholesaler. Grade choice, of course.

I wish I could say where this needled cow steaks were served. I really didn’t know then, and I don’t know now. Though I do believe most were sold to retirement homes and other such institutions, I am certain there were some that went to restaurants. I did know of one restaurant frequented by truckers that served t-bone steak at a crazy-low price. So just for laughs and giggles I ordered one. One look and I knew it was needled cow steak. How did I know? All one has to do is look at the long part of the T that runs down the steak. If it runs anywhere near the full length of the steak, and the steak is narrower, not having the full rounded look that a choice steak would have, that means “old,” which means needled cow steak.  Remember, when the loins are run through the needle machine they have a tendency to flatten out a little. But to be honest? The steak wasn’t half bad. The needle machine did a fine job of tenderizing and the steak tasted quite good. Whether they used some seasonings to give the flavor I don’t know.

Though I’ve been out of the meat business for over 15 years, it would be foolish to say the practice of tenderizing and selling cow steak is still not going on. And it should be said that there is absolutely nothing unhealthy about cow steak. It is government inspected just as is grade choice meat. But it is something to know the next time you walk into a restaurant selling steak at an unbelievably low price. Someone might have done the chewing for you. Bone apatite!


My Meat Department Tabloid

I was raised in the meat business. My father had a slaughter-house and meat cutting and packing plant that I worked for several years when not in school. After being discharged from the military I worked in the logging industry for 18 years. When that company shut down and we were all laid off, I decided to get back into meat cutting and purchased a meat market which I owned for 14 years. I also worked a couple of years cutting meat in a Piggly Wiggly store. Bottom line, I do know something about cuts of meat, and will share a few facts one might find interesting.

1. What makes some beef tender or tough? There are two factors. One is which part of the animal the meat is coming from. The more muscled the meat, the tougher it will be. So the parts of the animal most heavily used from day-to-day are going to be the tougher cuts. For instance the front shoulder and neck area where the chuck roast and chuck steaks come from are going to be tougher. The same with the rear legs and rump area where the round steak and sirloin tip come from. Now the area along the back between the front and rear is the least used part of the body, so in turn the less muscular and the more tender. That is where the rib steak, t-bone steak and sirloin steak are located. And by far the least used part of the body is the inner part of the t-bone steak, which is the tenderloin.

A second factor that makes meat tender or tough is how it is fed. If meat is not continually putting on weight, the meat turns to muscle, some parts of the body faster than others. And muscle means tough. New meat means tender. So if a beef is continually putting on meat and fat it will be tender. If it quits gaining weight over an extended period, or, worse yet, loses weight, its meat will be tough.

2. Why do some meats have good flavor while others are…well, blah? It is totally in what they are being fed. A big craze right now is “naturally fed” or “grass-fed.” Healthier? I don’t know. What I do know is a beef that was totally raised on grass, in my experience, has little or no flavor. “Bring on the steak sauce!” But an animal that has been heavily grain fed at least the last month has wonderful flavor. Which brings us back to tenderness. Grain is high in calories, and puts on weight in a hurry. Of course, grain is far more expensive to feed than grass or hay. So, hence, the shortcuts. But the end result is not good. Like I said, “Bring on the steak sauce!” Corn-fed beef also has a wonderful flavor. Unfortunately, corn-fed beef produces yellowish fat, which the retailers do not consider appealing to the eye of the consumer.

3. When shopping for meat, what is the best value? If there is one thing that jumps out at me when scanning the meat section of any given supermarket is how many new and fancy names that have been given cuts of meat since I was in the business. Back in the 60’s one basically picked from, at most, 15 cuts of beef. Today, just in the chuck roast or chuck steak section alone I can find at least five different names given to this one cut of meat. Sheesh!

4. So how did all these different names for basic cuts come about? God’s honest truth! I saw it done. In many cases the manager of a meat department stared at a basic cut of meat and said to himself, “How can I make more money from this one cut of meat?” (I’ll give one of the more blaring examples.) The t-bone steak. Now visualize this, if you care to. The tenderloin runs along the inner side of the back where the t-bone steak is located, and tapers down to a point toward the end. What is called the porterhouse steak is usually the first four to five cuts off the t-bone steak where the tenderloin is at its largest. Got that? With that in mind, the meat manager says, “Hey, if I cut from the bone the large portion of the t-bone steak and give it a fancy name like…let’s say…new york steak, I can sell that at far more than a t-bone steak. Then I could take that round tenderloin part of the steak and give it a fancy name like…let’s say, filet mignon. And then charge the living bejesus out of the customer. And that end portion of the t-bone where there is little or no tenderloin? That also becomes a new york steak. And you know what is sad? In the last few years I’ve noticed the supermarkets are now even leaving the bone in the new york steak, and still charging the same price. Sorry, I am not fooled. I always buy a porterhouse steak and give the filet mignon to my wife and I take the new york steak for myself, not to mention having a bone to gnaw on. We are both happy…and at two-thirds the cost. There are numerous other examples.

5. Let’s talk ground beef. In most meat sections you have the choice of regular ground beef, lean ground beef, and extra lean ground beef. Of course the obvious difference is fat content. Here’s something I bet you didn’t know. Most cuts of meats in a supermarket are graded “USDA Choice.” So a common belief is the ground meats are all “USDA Choice.” Not totally true. Because the fat trimmed from steaks and such would be money lost, a common practice used when making regular ground beef is to take all the fat trimmings from the USDA Choice cuts and mix them with “bull meat.” Though “bull meat” is a slang term, it can mean exactly that, or it can be an old Holstein cow past its milk producing prime, or any beef healthy enough for human consumption; bottom line, any beef that is super lean with little to no fat content, no matter what its breed. But whatever the case, that meat is graded “Economy Grade,” which is the lowest USDA grade, its only value being meat for grinding. Bull meat comes to the meat department in 50 lb frozen blocks. Once thawed it is mixed with the fat trim; hence regular ground beef. Lean ground beef is about the closest to all natural as can be expected, usually being the normal meat trimmings from quality meat. Extra lean, on the other hand, can be the same trimmings used in lean ground beef, with the added kicker of more bull meat.

6. And speaking on the subject of ground beef. If you ever see ground beef labeled as “ground round,” or “ground chuck,” or “ground sirloin,” it’s okay to be a little skeptical. The meat grinder is the common denominator. Any ground beef is usually “wonder meat.” You wonder from what part of the animal it came from, no matter what the label might say. Myself? I usually purchase “lean ground beef.” Unlike extra lean, which can be dry, blah and crumbly, lean ground beef has enough fat to give flavor and moistness, not to mention have a far better chance of being 100% grain-fed grade choice meat. Sound good to you? Sounds good to me.

I didn’t write this post to scare people away from beef. No matter what the USDA grade, it is still all healthy, as far as red meat is concerned. There’s just a few aspects of the subject the meat cutter would be reluctant to divulge.

I hope you meat lovers out there learned something.



See How Hilarious It Is To Be A Father!

Folks, you have to see this series of photos. They are a gas!!!

Chocolate Vent

Remember Dave Engledow, the self-proclaimed “World’s Best Father”?

2. He’s back with a new book and a handful of incredible new pictures of him and his 3-year-old, Alice Bee.

3. And his portraits of family life are just as amazing as ever.

4. The 43-year-old married dad has been capturing life with Alice since she was about 6 weeks old, starting with this photo.

“When I first started, the idea was that I just kind of wanted to make fun of myself because I was feeling incredibly exhausted and sleep-deprived,” Engledow told BuzzFeed, “so I wanted to capture just how clueless and sleepy I felt.”

5. This was another early favorite, inspired by Engledow’s “deathly” fear that he would leave Alice’s car seat on top of the car.


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Finding Something For An Old Fart To Be Proud Of

In our upstairs closet are boxes stacked with every magazine containing at least one article I have written. With some going back 45 years, why I keep them, I don’t have the slightest idea. I never look at them. But because I do take pride in having been a regularly published writer, I guess that after I have passed away one of my children may want them, so the boxes can take up space in their closets. Whatever the case, I can’t bring myself to throw them away. Though many of them are “how to” stories, I took the most pride in my published humor articles. I also took pride in the “Letters To The Editor” complimenting my articles. Other than my enjoyment of putting words to print, not to mention continuing what I have done most of my adult life, that’s why I enjoy writing this blog. I get my “Letters To The Editor” via the comment section. “Liked” is nice, but a few words in the “comment section” is better. I think all of us bloggers can agree on that. And, of course, I take pride when someone thinks enough of one of my posts to reblog it.

But for a long while I believed anything I took real pride in were things accomplished during my younger years. For instance, I was proud I graduated high school, proud I was chosen to play professional baseball, proud I served in the military, and proud I was always employed and brought home the paycheck to a family that depended on me. I could go on to say I am proud I made it to retirement age in good health. But that was by the grace of God. I beat up on my body with cigarettes for far more years than were given to many cancer and heart attack victims now deceased. But then I began thinking. There had to be some things I can be proud of since retiring. I just had to give it some serious thought: something I don’t usually make a habit of doing. After all you never know when a guy might get a brain infraction. So I believe I will begin a list as they come to mind of what I will call “My Old Fart Accomplishments.” I figure that way I can keep my brain unclogged for far more important matters, such as my few excuses for getting out of “honey-dos” that actually worked. So I will begin….

1. After shoving cigarettes in my face for some 50 plus years, I quit a year and a half ago. Whether I’ll put a marijuana smoke in my face when the retail outlets open this summer remains to be seen. The problem with that is I wouldn’t dare write a post while smoking. I would find every word I put to print hilarious, and would be kicking out posts every half hour.

2. I take pride owning more fishing gear than any ten husbands should be allowed.

3. So, in turn, I take pride in my maneuvering skills in purchasing all my fishing gear.

4. I take pride in convincing my wife to allow the grim reaper time to finally notice me rather than committing what she would consider to be justifiable homicide.

5. I take pride that I can still convince my grandkids that a surprise is awaiting them if they pull my finger.

6. I take pride in being able to “enhance” a day of fishing with a good story, and within a week actually believe it myself.

7. I take pride in seeing the twisted contortions of my wife’s face when entering the bathroom directly after my morning’s constitutional. Even a HazMat team would not be that foolhardy.

8. I take pride in always eating a balanced meal, making certain my fried potatoes on one side of the plate weighs no more than the fried meat on the other.

9. I take pride that I only take four pills a day. A baby aspirin, a thyroid pill for an inactive thyroid which is located…I don’t have the slightest idea where, blood pressure medication, and a Lipitor in case diet and exercise are not enough. Of course I don’t diet or exercise, so I’m counting on the Lipitor to take up the slack.

10. I’m proud that my neighbors no longer slow down as they drive by to see how I might amuse them. Sheesh! You would think they’d never seen a man casting a new rod and reel in the front yard, or seen someone sitting in a boat with a pole in his hand…while in the garage.

11. That brings to mind something else I am proud of. I take pride in that I still come up in conversation at my wife’s pinnacle club, even if they are words of understanding condolences.

12. I take pride that “Ole Blue” has been replaced with a new truck. Now I actually have a towing vehicle that cost more than the bassboat it’s towing.

13. And, lastly, I take pride in knowing there are fellow writers who actually take the time to read my humble attempts at lightening their day with my ramblings….

My Resume To Be A Fishing Catalog Writer

To Whom It May Concern…Hopefully The Guy Who Hires The Writers,

I have been a published humor writer for many years. Now retired I have made the decision to make an attempt to join your staff of fishing catalog writers. After reading one of my sales pitches I believe the customer will purchase the product out of an unexplainable excitement derived totally through my writing prowess…that and the fact that most of the bass fishermen I know have an IQ just a little higher than a tater tot. Anyway, here is a sample ad I wrote….

Bassterbaiters Tackle Company is proud to announce their 2014 line up of combination rod and reels. Yes, we have a combination of gear to fit any specie of fish swimming the fresh or salt waters; anything from our PollyWog model for catching Bluegill fish, to our Great Sperm Whale model, (cannon and harpoon sold separately.) Which ever rod and reel you choose they all have a sensitivity beyond belief. If a fish is even thinking about eating your lure, the rod will tell you. If the fish breathes, (okay, fish don’t breath, but you get my point,) on your lure the sensation will transmit right up the line, down your pole, causing a vibration that will have your teeth rattling. And if they actually bite…your eyeballs will be playing “Pinball Wizard” in their sockets!

And light? Both rod and reel are made out of a patent pending material called “Vapor.” Though the materials used to manufacture these fishing wonders are under lock and key, I have been authorized to say they are made out of a combination of air and…well, air, with a touch of helium.These rod and reels are so light you’ll hardly know their in your hands when fishing. In fact while field testing this amazing fish-catching combo, I fished for over two hours before I realized there was nothing in my hands. I had left the rod and reel back in the truck. Yes! They are that light!

At an unbelievable price of just three easy payments of $119.99 plus the cost of shipping and handling, which is equivalent to them being delivered via the Space Shuttle, these pieces of fishing magic are yours. We’ll even throw in a fake receipt for $19.99 to show the wife. You only have to pay the added shipping and handling charges for the fake receipt….

Okay, what do you think? I will be waiting with baited breath…No pun intended.

Best Regards,

Your Ever-Waiting Servant Who Could Use An Extra Paycheck,



How I Became A 68 Year Old Sex Symbol

Well the wife and I are still checking out 55 and older communities. Yesterday we went to one of those Assisted Living communities. It was one that offers everything from total independent living to the other extreme of those with one foot hovering over eternity, while the other foot stands on a banana skin. They have cottages where one totally lives independently, or with meals, or with meals and house cleaning. From there one transgresses to “the hotel” where more personal care is required. Then there is the facility that houses those whose mental faculties range anywhere from the beginning stages of dementia, to those who amuse themselves by carrying on conversations with thin air.

We were suppose to meet their representative in “the hotel” lobby. But because we were early, and our tour guide was running behind schedule, we were left waiting there. And because we had nothing better to do than munch on the house snack of unbuttered and unsalted popcorn, its tangy flavor tasting interestingly similar to that of shredded cardboard, we were left to watch the tenants shuffle by…

The first thing I noticed in this facility was that “walkers” seemed to be standard equipment. I could only guess, but I figured anyone transferred to this unit used a portable fence on wheels to keep from taking a half swam dive at ground level. Good idea. Though alcohol induced, I know from personal experiences down at Kelly’s Bar and Grill that a walker would have served me far better than my usual alternative of using my face to stop my fall. Secondly I noticed the unexpected threat of being physically violated by these biker…I mean walker gang females.

Yeah, you heard me right. These old women were sexual predators. I mean it was like I had a leading role in a Viagra commercial for women older than….a hundred. Maxine left me alone sitting on the couch. Suddenly I was shaken out of a bored daze by some silver-haired vixen who brought her walker to a stop directly in front of me, and gave me a smile and a wink. What was up with that? I gave her a weak smile and nod. I decided it was time to get up and move around. I figured like vultures soaring over a dead body, maybe if I moved around they would believe I was too spry for unvoluntary fornication. Then while I was looking at historical pictures on the wall I heard the squeaky wheel of a walker behind me. “Please keep going,” I whispered to myself. “Please keep going.” It didn’t. When the sound stop, I slowly turned. When we made eye contact she seductively smiled and gave the bicycle horn mounted on her walker a couple quick toots. She then gave a “come hither” wave of her head. It was like she was saying, “Hop on and we’ll go for the ride of your life.” This was beginning to get scary! It was quite obvious that, moving or not, while alone I was fair game. Like the widow Cloras across the street from where we live, she obviously didn’t care what she hooked up with as long as it remotely resembled the right species.

Then something odd struck me. Why did the old ladies outnumber the old men…by a lot! I mean I saw like fifteen old ladies, and maybe two old men. After my experience the only conclusion I could come to was…these old ladies ravished the poor old souls until their tickers could no longer take it! How much more diabolical can it get than that? Anyway, mercifully, my wife finally returned to my side.

After the tour was over I was impressed with their independent living cottages. But if we were to ever move in, I would never again enter…(shreeking violin music) “the hotel.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Here’s a relevent joke:

While visiting his long-time doctor for a physical, the man told the doctor he could no long live with his wife, and was seriously thinking about murdering her. The doctor told him that going to prison for the rest of his life just wasn’t worth it. What you should do is screw her to death. “What?” the man said. “Yep,” the doctor continued, “whether she wants it or not, drag her in the bedroom at least three times a day, if not more. I guarantee you that at her age she’ll be dead within thirty days.” The man shook the doctor’s hand and said he would do it.

After 28 days had passed and the doctor hadn’t heard from the man, he decided to drive out to his home. When he walked up to the front porch, there sitting in a chair with his feet in a bucket of hot water and a blanket draped over his shoulders was his patient. His eyes were shrunk back in his head, and he was skin and bone. His whole body was shaking. Hearing whistling coming from inside, the doctor could see his wife cheerfully skipping around the house while she cleaned. He then looked back to the man. “You look terrible!” The man slowly looked up at him. “Don’t feel sorry for me Doc,” he weakly replied, “feel sorry for my wife. She’d be whistling out of the other side of her mouth if she knew she only has two more days to live.”