I've been making quite a bit of sausage lately. In the last 3 months it's safe to say that I've processed over 100 pounds of homemade sausage. I just finished a new batch.
Just before I started this iteration I went to Northern Tool where I scored a new 5 pound sausage press. I'm not sure if sausage nirvana truly exists, but after my three earlier attempts, this new press gets me closer to that utopic state than anything else I've experienced -- but I digress.
I never spend over $1.00 a pound for the meat that goes into my sausage. That's one of the rules. Once I add the cost for the spices and other ingredients
and factor in the cost of the casings I probably run around $1.30 to $1.50 per pound (the fat free stuff probably runs higher because it has more waste).
The other day we were talking about the "cost" of a pound of the stuff I'm creating. I was comparing it to the store where sausage typically starts at around $2.50 per pound and goes up from there. At some point in the discussion Michelle said "With all the money you spend on the equipment it would take more sausage than we could ever eat to reach the breakeven point - I wonder if it would just be easier and smarter to just get it at the grocery.
Mandy turned, looked at her and exclaimed "Mom, you don't understand! Sausage is radio controlled airplanes!". Suddenly Michelle understood perfectly and the more I thought about it the more I knew she was right. So right, in fact, that she gave me the title for the book I'm currently writing.
Truth be told, the book I'm writing is radio controlled airplanes too. Just as it was when I flew Mandy to China so we could walk on the great wall together. When Dennis and I climbed Devils tower, when I got my black belt in Taekwondo, when I jumped out of an airplane, and when a giant fish swallowed my arm 90 feet below the surface of the ocean off the coast of Mexico, it was radio controlled airplanes. It's my life philosophy. I truly believe that even more than the number 47, "sausage is radio controlled airplanes" is the meaning of life.
Yesterday (or the day before but who cares) my friend Joe announced he had created a TV antenna using wood, duct tape, coat hangers and aluminum foil. I responded by suggesting you can get an antenna at Radio Shack for next to nothing and asked him how much he thought his time was worth. My friend Dennis quickly replied and said "It's sausage".
I got two things from that. First, Joe built the antenna not because he was too cheap to buy one - it was never about the money - it was about accomplishing something. Second (and probably much more importantly) it's easier to say something is "Sausage" than to say it's "Radio Controlled Airplanes" (and the transitive property of equality makes the decision to use either completely acceptable).
There's a right and wrong way to live your life. It works like this. When I was quite young I was very impressed with radio controlled airplanes. I hoped that one day I would be able to build and fly one myself. There were two reasons behind this. On one hand not many people build an airplane that actually flies. On the other hand, it would be cool to actually experience the process of using a box of wood and a set of plans to create a genuine flying airplane. I imagined the feeling of watching it roll down the runway, lift into the air, do a number of maneuvers and safely return to earth would be extraordinary. Something to be cherished and savored.
When I was dreaming the dream of flying an RC plane there was just no way I was going to make it happen. In those days the total out of pocket cost of building and flying such a machine was well over a thousand dollars (and my first job after college was paying me a gross wage of under $800 per month). Accomplishments of that scale required a great deal of saving and waiting.
Shortly after college graduation, and with the support of my new wife, I bought my first RC aircraft kit. It was a Sig Cadet and the kit was around $35. I handed over another $150 for an engine, $675 for a used 4 channel radio, another hundred or two for accessories like control links, gas tank, wheels, propellers, fuel, engine starter, film to cover the fuselage and wings, etc. Hundreds of hours and about a year and a half of calendar time later it was ready to fly. I found an RC club where I could get some lessons, spent a number of hours learning how it works and finally accomplished the dream of my first RC solo.
Once I accomplished the goal, I more or less lost interest. My fancy turned to scuba diving or photography or disc golf or hunting rattle snakes or any one of a hundred other things I've tried across the span of my life.
Now I know there are others who learn to fly an RC plane and then spend decades becoming the perfect RC pilot, all the time dreaming of one day winning a national competition, but that's not what works for me. I like to go into a new experience at 100 miles an hour and learn all about it. I like to develop a skill set that makes me "above average" and then I like to move on to the next thing.
Cost isn't really a guiding factor. That's not to say that the cost isn't important because money drives our ability (or inability) to accomplish many of our goals. My son-in-law wants to own a viper (the car, not a snake) and I'm sure my daughter (who totally gets my trophy case life philosophy) would have given him one if cost wasn't important. The thing about cost is that it doesn't need keep you from finding the next experience and adding it to your trophy case. Some experiences (like building that antenna) can be an instant decisions. Others, like my current plan to visit Antarctica, take some planning, saving, and time.
The important point is that you get out there and make sausage. Too many people spend their lives going to work, coming home, eating, watching 4 hours of TV, going to bed, and then starting another iteration of the same thing the next day.
That is such a waste. Take a moment to determine what your radio controlled airplane is, and go make some sausage!