Why in the world would I hand out this kind of dough? Because…

  • My accountant just notified me that in order to get in a lower tax bracket, I need to spend 500 bucks before my tax year-end.
  • I’m lonely and need to purchase a friend. $500 is all I can afford.
  • I need a tax deduction to offset my runaway book sales.
  • I like making things happen, especially when I have $500 rattling around in my back pocket.
  • I like making people happy, even if it costs $500.
  • I think my wife is cutest when her face turns purple. Today it turned a lighter shade of purple when I told her about my cash giveaway. I think the full-blown deep purple coloration will arrive on July 15.
  • I’m an idiot. To confirm, read my book or at least the reviews.

All important aspects of this “sweepstakes” are in bold letters.

One Winner. Qualified drawing.

To be eligible for this cash bonanza, you must do two easy things and one really hard thing:

Easy part:

  1. Sign up to follow this blog in the upper right hand corner of this blog.
  2. Share on Facebook the Facebook post announcing this madman’s giveaway.

Hard part:

3. Be a friend of mine on Facebook or you won’t be included in the random number generated drawing. You and I must have at least one Facebook friend in common for you to be accepted as my friend. 

If you aren’t my Facebook friend and we don’t share a common friend, comment on this blog post as to which Recovering Idiot Amazon review you liked the most and at least one word as to why.  “Because” will suffice. If you want to go into more detail, feel free.

This Comment rule is intended to separate bogus Friend requests that I receive from people who genuinely want to be my friend and in my cash giveaway contest. I’ll then accept your Facebook friend request. Friend requests not meeting this criteria will receive no response.

The winning friend will be selected in the numerical order of my Facebook friends as listed on my Facebook page.

Just to be clear: Following me on Facebook is not what counts in the giveaway. Being a blog Follower is one of the needed components. Sharing a blog post on Facebook is the other. My Facebook friends will all be in the numbered drawing each week until an eligible name shows up.

Here is the random number generator we will be using:  Random Number Generator

I know this random number generator tool is not quite as professional-looking as the Powerball tools they use to give away hundreds of millions of dollars.  However, my budget is a bit less than the Lotto promoters and my “winner” probably won’t have his or her life ruined like the Lotto winners often do.

However, if you think the extra 500 bucks IS going to ruin your life, please shred the check as soon as you get it. Unfortunately, if you have to do this you’re never going to know if my check was going to bounce or not.

So you may ask “Why is being your friend the hard part? Being your friend doesn’t sound all that difficult.”

You must not know me, eh?

In a nutshell, over the years I’ve heard from so many people how hard it is to be my friend.

The first anniversary card I got from my wife was a do-it-yourself Turkey kit. The caption read “Ben, you need a friend.” If you’re still not convinced, I guess you’ll just have to find out the hard way.

If the pre-qualified winner is picked from among my Facebook friends but hasn’t completed both of the first two requirements, I’ll announce their name and give condolences. If we don’t have an eligible winner, the same process will be repeated the next Saturday and every Saturday thereafter until a qualified winner is drawn.

Most sweepstakes exclude relatives or employees of the awarding company. This one doesn’t since I have many relatives who are part of the mix of my Facebook friends.

If my wife wins, I should probably leave the country.

However, I have to say I’m hopeful the winner is not related to me or I’ll never hear the end of it.

This drawing is going to make someone $500 worth of happy or possibly a few people $500 worth of sad if we don’t pick a winner right off.

Similar to the gamut of emtions we’ll each have when we reach the pearly gates.

Here is the originating seed that spawned this senseless giveaway…


Mark Maxfield won a measly $50 by simply being a Recovering Idiot Follower which automatically registered him in that drawing. You can read about his good fortune in this blog a couple of weeks ago. I got such a kick out of writing him a check I decided to up the ante by five times the amount of what Mark got. Thus, the $500 figure.

To insure this promotion is on the up and up, I’m going to hire Price, Waterhouse and Cooper to audit the proceedings.

Whoops! After an online search, I just found out PWC will charge me $50,000 just to watch me pick a FB friend. In addition, they want 40% of the winnings.

Ain’t going to happen.

Who needs accountants when you’ve got a mind as good with numbers as I do?

But, I probably better hire an accountant just to keep everybody happy. Therefore, I will hire a former PWC CPA’d person to do the observation. That person will be…drumroll please…Margaret Payne from Phoenix AZ.

Margaret was the only female bean-counter on a 5-person bean-team from BYU that won a national collegiate accounting contest. This is the only reason I have chosen her.

BYU Students Take Top Prize at National xTAX Competition

From Left: Meg Casper, Kodiak Smith, Aaron Zimbelman, Reed Maughan (PwC Mentor), Brian Hunt and Jed Eastman.
From Left: Meg Casper, Kodiak Smith, Aaron Zimbelman, Reed Maughan (PwC Mentor), Brian Hunt and Jed Eastman.


This happened back when she was still packing around my last name and before she married Jake who is a real Payne and has always been one.

To be candid, there’s one other small little reason she was acquired. When I said I was going to hire an accountant, I was mistaken. Please omit the word “hire”.

She won’t cost me a dime since she’s my middle daughter and still owes me from back in the day when I changed a few of her really yucky diapers. Her observation will have to take place on Facetime since now I can’t afford the 500 dollar airplane ticket for her to be here in person. . Thanks, Meggie!

Meg will be judge and overseer of the giveaway.

We are doing all we can to insure that the Russians don’t hack into this process.

Disclaimer: In the very unlikely event this little promotion goes viral, contrary to what most of my fans think, I can only do so much in accepting friend requests.

Late-coming entrants will be accomodated in chronological order of application. Those unable to be accepted will have to wait in line until I can get around to accepting their friend request, whether it be in this lifetime or in the world to come, I know not.

Also, in the very likely event that I go bankrupt between now and July 15, I’ll still cough up the 500 bucks. Just don’t tell the bankruptcy trustee or my purple-hued wife.

If you have any questions, make a comment at the bottom and I’ll answer you as soon as we get back from the dermatologist.

Michele’s skin conditon has flared up again.

Good luck. May the best Follower win!

Concerning my book. I’m already thinking about having another $500 contest concerning a Recovering Idiot book owner/reader. This is down the road a bit but if you don’t have the book, you might think about getting it and studying up. The contest will require knowledge of some aspect or content from the book.


   image3-lowerA quote from the book… 

I was two years old at the time and toddled around the place in freezing weather while the folks built the house. I probably wasn’t much help. Dad mixed concrete for the foundation by hand and shovel. They illuminated the primitive worksite with the car headlights….

…My future with the capitals “BT” for “Big Trouble” was foretold one cold winter night when I stuck my tongue on the business end of a frozen hammer. The folks got a little concerned when they saw me walking around with a claw hammer hanging out of my mouth.

How to thaw and separate? There was no electricity, heat, or running water. I was screaming and time was of the essence. The only warm substance available was mom’s spit so she started hocking loogies toward my connection point with this foreign object until we finally separated…


Read the reviews.  Paperback or Hard Cover.

Kindle Book One      Kindle Book Two


I often see apartment fires on the news but today I almost saw one up close and personal.

We visit our refugee families once or twice a week. Last week we took two small kids, two teenage girls and the small kid’s grandmother to Howard Amon Park in Richland. I think it was their first time in a park.

In the eight months we have been working with these families, we have never been able to get a word out of the meek little four year-old girl or her seven year-old brother. I don’t know just what the holdup in communications has been but I’ve never heard a peep from either child.

At the park we got the kids to sit on swings and I began pushing them. They both yelled with surprise and glee at what looked to me like the first swing-set ride they had ever encountered. Each time I pushed the boy, he enunciated a big yell out of his grinning mouth. It was a very rewarding time to bring some happiness into their world. A simple little exercise that we’ll each remember for a long time.

Back to the apartment fire. Today we visited the families once again. Michele read stories to the little girl while I talked to her uncle who can be partially seen in the background.Image1

Soon her grandmother launched into Swahili to her son (the uncle) about what had happened just a short time prior to our arrival. She talked so emphatically and fast that I didn’t understand a word she said.

I have as much Swahili under my belt as grandma has English. But I have mastered 3 Swahili words.  “Missouri” is not a river in the mid-west but a general term that basically means “Good”.

And after picking the families up several times to take them various places and waiting longer than I thought was necessary, I’ve learned that “Kua Tuende” means “Get your behind in gear and let’s get the heck out of Dodge!” I also learned that the louder the “Kua Tuende”, the quicker our van got loaded.

Only after the doors were closed and the state-mandated seat belts clicked did I say “Missouri”.

We have noticed that electricity is a new and strange power that these folks are unfamiliar with. Last winter on days that we visited them we would notice the thermostat was turned clear up which made perfect sense to me since it was 10 or 15 degrees outside and these folks had just arrived from Africa. What didn’t make sense was when we walked by one of their windows, they were wide open and freezing air was pouring in.

I assumed they were checking to see if the heater could stay ahead of frosty Mother Nature or maybe they were just trying to make the ambient outside air temperature in Kennewick a little closer to that of the old Congo neighborhood.

We’ve also noticed that when these folks cook, the burners are always turned on high. When something is on the stove, the burner element is red hot. I guess they think a red hot burner in Kennewick is the next best thing to a cooking fire in the refugee camp back home.

After the uncle heard the story, he slowed down the conversation speed and converted granny’s Swahili into English.  It turns out that fast-talking grandma had finished cooking lunch but forgot to throw cold water on the cooking fire before she went in the other room.

The little four year-old girl decided that since there was a nice electronic campfire on top of the Kenmore it was time to dispose of the trash. She lifted the week’s garbage,  still encapsulated by the plastic garbage container, over her head and placed it on the campfire.

In the other room, grandma heard a loud screeching smoke alarm go off and rushed out of the bedroom to be greeted by plasticized smoke signals. The signals were billowing out of the kitchen and smelled nothing like the meal she had just cooked.

This is the campfire-style stove and the heat-seeking garbage container…


I’m don’t know how she got the fire out. Maybe she did throw cold water on it.

I’m sure the many families living in that particular apartment complex have no idea how close they came to sleeping out under the stars tonight with just the clothes on their back.

I told grandma in my broken Swahili that the next garbage can she acquired should be made out of a non-flammable material like cast iron . I also let her know the stove knobs work better than water when trying to kill an electronic kitchen fire.

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“Recovering Idiot” Facebook posts are seen by about 35% of my friends. You can beat the odds and get notified each time I post by entering your email address in the upper right portion of this post.

image3-lower   A quote from the book…

Claude kept harping and didn’t stop the impromptu flight school discourse so finally I said as I slammed the door, “All right, Claude, thanks for the ride. I’m going to take off with the wind just to show you!”…

(15 minutes later)…I pulled back on the stick and got no response. I wanted to stop this nightmare, but it was much too late. If I tried to abort the takeoff, I would hit the end of the runway, cows and trees at 120 mph. The point of no return was now a long way behind me…

Read the reviews.  Paperback or Hard Cover.

Kindle Book One      Kindle Book Two

At last, I’m finally making decent money from my inventions. However there is a downside. My kid brothers and sisters are extremely jealous and trying to crimp my style. Read on for the full scoop.

My first invention from 18 years ago is pictured here. Sales have been great, far exceeding my expectations.


Propane dealers from sea to shining sea can’t do without it.

A homemade video showing it in action (Start at the 45 second mark)…

Here’s one of the first YankATanks I built, long ago outliving it’s depreciation schedule and now relegated to a scrap area.


And there’s more where that came from…


This is the original prototype of another idea I call the Tire Squire and Truck Tire Squire. It’s fun to see what can happen if you have a little vision!

Just yesterday we shipped one to a tire company in Georgia. The only man-powered machine on earth that will pick up and haul 8 truck tires. All packed up and ready to ship:


Action shots of the offspring from the original old beater… and

You may ask “Have you ever made something you didn’t sell?” I know it’s hard to believe but 95% of the things I’ve developed have never made it to the production stage.

One time I heard the phrase that people would beat a path to your door if you built a better mousetrap. So I did.

To get rid of rodents at the shop I found some great green mouse bait. The mice loved it but they carried it off to their winter quarters and came back for more. It just didn’t do the whole job. So I set to work constructing a gizmo to destroy Mickey.

I used the mouse bait to entice the mices to an area that featured my new but heretofore untested premier 110-volt Mouse Trap/Vaporizer. As you can see, it was an awesome invention!

Right off, I could see that I needed to do some improvements on it if I was going to get UL Laboratories to give their stamp of approval on it.


It worked great because I never once found a mouse lounging around the area. They had all been vaporized!

It never really took off. The only thing that took off from this handy little device was me on those unlucky days when I forgot about the high-charged ring and happened to brush up against it as I walked past. I didn’t vaporize but I’m sure I lost a pound or two from all the excitement and hopping and yelling and screaming.

Instead of calling it 110-volt Mouse Trap/Vaporizer, maybe I should market it as a 110-volt Weight Reduction device.

Speaking of weight reduction, here’s another one of my inventions that can help you lose weight and yet I never sold a single one. Yet.

The original prototype:



Some of the fruits of my simple creations that do sell can be found at

The story behind this post is my dilemma with my family…

I rent a building or two from my eight siblings so I can continue to turn my daydreams into nightmares and once in a while into real machines. Contained in this rented area are the remnants of my work over the last 18 years. Unfortunately, mechanical inventions necessarily produce a pile of prototypical expensive junk. At least mine do.

I’ve found it’s hard to part with my babies since I’ve put so much time, effort, hope and money into them.

However, my evil landlords have decreed that my scrap pile must be eliminated. They don’t have the sentimental attachment that I do for the rusty old relics. I finally had to quit crying, capitulate to my underling siblings and begin trashing my historical treasures.

Here is a small sample of my subject material:


As I started gathering up my works of art, the inanimate objects decided they really didn’t want to vacate the premises. At regular intervals they commenced attacking me to drive home the point that they didn’t want to leave their birthplace. My body is now sporting multiple contusions, scrapes, cuts, bruises and wounds from these battles.

Here is just one example of their assault on me:


As I lifted up a large load of metal to drop in the scrap bin, a large slippage occurred and I narrowly missed becoming part of the remnants being thrown away. Notice the missing fingertips that actually did end up in the scrap bin at an earlier date.

Thank goodness my old forklift had a safety cage wrapped around the driver’s seat!

The cleanup is almost complete. In spite of the mindset I had to fight through in order to chuck the stuff, I did it. It was hard.

It was even harder as some of my siblings circled like vultures around the hazardous cleanup site. Once in a while they would swoop in to partake of my treasures before I could get the items loaded in the scrap bin.

Here is pictorial proof of an actual brother absconding with what used to be part of my valuable inventory:


Like I said to them in the original unsuccessful debate, “This stuff is not junk! I’m going to need it someday.”

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Or, in this case…

One brother’s treasure used to be another brother’s treasure.

While we’re on the subject, have you ever had a secret desire to invent something that has never been thought of before?

I did for the majority of my life.

Finally, I quit dreaming, rolled up my sleeves and dove in. The crazy ups and crazier downs of my inventing experiences are detailed here…


Read the reviews.  Paperback or Hard Cover.

Kindle Book One      Kindle Book Two

Cash winner followup:

And because I’m doing so well with my little inventing business and need more tax deductions, I decided to give out a little cash to my blog followers and commentators. Here’s our first winner who was randomly drawn from Recovering Idiot followers. Image2

Mark Maxfield of Pasco WA and his check for 50 bucks.

Recovering Idiot Followers and Commentators will be drawn from time to time for cash prizes. I do this because it’s fun to make people’s day and I need more IRS deductions.

Don’t miss out!

Mark didn’t!

My back pocket is getting kind of overloaded again. I think I’ll hand out some more heavy greenbacks in June.


Just for fun and to show appreciation, once in a while if I’m in the mood I’m going to throw cash to followers and commentators of this blog. The winner and other details are at the bottom of this post.

Back to the tutus…

Nine visible ballerinas. One of them carries my genes. Any idea which one?

The poor thing is known as Charlotte. (#5 from the left)

Like Charlotte, I don’t follow the crowd. I do a lot of looking up too. Case in point…

Last fall I was drying corn at midnight and noticed falling corn kernels attacking my bald head. The night was dark and the wind was howling.

After climbing the elevator stairs, I found the tube that was leaking. I could see that to fix this problem I was going to need some very specialized tools. I went back down.

I grabbed a ladder, a flashlight, some duct tape and a strand of baling twine. Me and my equipment then ascended back up the stairway to heaven.

Out of breath, I  arrived at the leak site. I positioned my ladder against the leaky tube and noticed one ladder leg was suspended by nothing but air. I tied some baling twine on the ladder leg, took a deep breath and climbed the ladder to fix the leak.


Notice the twine supported leg. The picture below shows the height of the work area.

Visualize the dark night and the wind whipping past as I attempted to tape the tube that was a good 60 or 70 feet high.  Did I mention a rung on the ladder was missing and the ladder teetered back and forth on the leaking grain tube at the top?

Finally, the leaking corn got taped shut and I was able to descend to a healthier elevation. Who needs Disneyland when you have a job like mine?


Thanks to everyone who has signed up to follow this blog! I like blogging and they must like following. Because I’m still a partial idiot and enjoy making someone’s day, once in a while I’m going to throw out a little appreciation cash. (This applies to this blog only. Facebook comments won’t be in the mix.)

Recovering Idiot followers and commentators will be eligible each time I notice some cash burning a hole in my pocket. I’m going to use an online random number generator which will pick out a winner. This way, I won’t be sending cash to just the few friends I have but my large assortment of enemies will also be eligible.

Mark Maxfield of Pasco WA was the Recovering Idiot follower on this first go-around. Congrats Mark!


Like the blog? Love the book.


Read the reviews.  Paperback or Hard Cover.

Kindle Book One      Kindle Book Two


One of my nephews called and asked if he could borrow my vehicle for his date tonight.

I said “Sure, if you keep it under a hundred and eighty.”

He said he would do his best.

I chuckled because I knew there was no way he would get the old pickup past a hundred and twenty.

Then he said he was allergic to vehicles painted white and preferred a darker colored vehicle. Now what do I do?


Like the blog? Love the book.


Read the reviews.  Paperback or Hard Cover.

Kindle Book One      Kindle Book Two