Sunday, March 11, 2007

Welcome to Jeff's Garage and Ale House

Welcome - This is the beginning of what I hope will be a very diverse, entertaining, and maybe even educational website; sort of the cyber-version of the real Jeff's Garage and Ale House. To fully appreciate why I created this webpage, let me tell you the story of Jeff's Garage and Ale House and why it is so important to me personally.

About Me
I grew up on the East Coast of Florida in a sleepy beach town just south of Daytona Beach. It was a great adolescence, what many young people dream of. But, as a surfer and a coastal Floridian to the hilt, my passions and interests were not about auto mechanics. I had always had a sort of silent admiration for people who were knowledgeable in the field, but never really had time or the need for that matter to learn the trade myself.
After three years in the Navy as a Gunner's Mate (Missiles), in 1992 I came home to Florida and wanted to catch up with my peers in college. I had to pay bills, obviously, and a golden opportunity came about to learn the Auto Mechanic's trade from the ground up as a technician for Bridgestone/Firestone stores. This was a perfect opportunity for me, because it enabled me to work during the day and begin my college classes at night.
Inside of a year I had amassed a decent collection of mostly Craftsman and Snap-On Tools, as well as a knowledge of the trade that, a couple of years earlier, I had never thought I would have. Some of the "Old Salts" at the first store I worked at sort of took me under their wing and I began to really enjoy the field, even if I was less than enthusiastic about being in the retail end of the business.
I graduated from Florida State in the mid-1990's with a degree in Political Science and a Minor in Economics. This was, of course, my true passion but I had to remain in the Automotive Industry to pay the bills - National Review didn't have any spots open for a mid-twenties guy with axle grease under his fingernails and limited contacts. By this time time I had become an Assistant Store Manager for one of BFS's chief Florida Competitors. Even though I still enjoyed the trade itself, the stress of the retail end of it was beginning to really grind me down. About six months after I graduated from FSU, I took a job at a Parts Counter for a Toyota Dealership where I continued to learn about the industry. The money, however, was far less than stellar and I began to feel like I needed a real career that would truly challenge me and give me the opportunity I needed to make a good living. I would spend the next five years as a traveling consultant, living on the West Coast of Florida before I would meet the woman who would later become my wife.
Here's where the story of Jeff's Garage and Ale House begins
My wife, at the time my fiance, and I shared a tiny one bedroom condo in downtown Chicago shortly after my moving north to be with her. I had within the last year left the consulting business and the two of us were constantly cramped in this tiny little 1000 square foot home whenever we weren't at work. No balcony, one TV between us, not much in the way of a computer for that matter. I absolutely loved my wife but had become accustomed to having my own "space" and we both felt like the living conditions we were currently in were driving us both to insanity. When we decided enough was enough with the City, we began looking in the West Suburbs and found a cozy little Cape Cod house in the Fox River Valley.
All of my life, especially all of my adult auto mechanic life, I had always wanted a garage, but having bounced from condo to condo had never had the opportunity to own one. What's more, paying someone else $30 to do routine work on my SUV that I could easily do myself was something that always stuck in my crawl. So, my one prerequisite to my wife was that our new home had to have a spacious, preferably detached garage. The Cape Cod we had found had a detached, car-and-a-half garage complete with bare bones workbench and several power outlets. The previous owner was quite the handyman and had built a series of shelves throughout the structure. I was in heaven.
Upon moving into the new house, my first shopping spree was at Sears to amass Craftsman compressors, jacks, creepers and other basic auto shop tools. I also wasted little time setting up a stereo system and found a spot for my humidor full of cigars (the Condo we lived in had no place for a cigar aficionado to enjoy himself - Jeff's Garage and Ale House is 100% cigar friendly. If you don't like the smoke, stay out. More on that later). Months later as a birthday present my wife bought for me a nice Kenmore fridge that can hold over a case of bottled beer. My Brother-in-Law donated a tiny, black and white TV that would be my sole garage TV until I was able to run the DirectTv line out to the garage, and now the 19" flat screen TV is hanging in the wall and is connected to the Sony Stereo for a very real surround sound feel. XM Satellite Radio plays as well through the stereo. So, on any given weekday afternoon, if the workday has been stressful especially, you'll find me out there. Jeff's Garage and Ale House has also become home to the Chicago Cubs during the summer. Pat and Ron on the Stereo, and the Lovable Losers on the TV with the volume down. Cigar smoke will be everywhere.
But Jeff's Garage and Ale House over the past couple of years has become more than a place to smoke a cigar, watch a ball game, and keep our SUV's in tiptop shape. It is also a place where XM radio broadcasts such right-of-center political pundits as Larry Elder. Politics are a very big part of the establishment.
I come from a family of Reagan Republicans who are very individualistic people. As such, my passions for history, theology, politics, and economics often spill over into garage time. I have continued to be an avid reader in all these fields, and have written many essays and editorials on the topics that matter to me. Many of these ideas and essays spawned from Garage Time, where a cigar and a good song helped the thought process along.
My political passions are these:
  • Promoting Free Market Economics and Free Trade, and, thus, vehemently opposing class envy - they all cannot co-exist. I believe passionately in a flat, non-progressive tax rate, anything else is nothing more than class warfare, which simply empowers self-interested politicians and eventually hampers economic activity.
  • Peace-through-strength military readiness. This is the most critical function of a government in a free society. In the post-Cold War era, this is even more important given the sworn enemy the West in general and America in particular faces in Islamofascism.
  • The best avenue to peace and prosperity in the world is to ensure that as many people as possible live in freedom. Poverty around the world is not the result of the West's "exploitation", it is the result of corrupt, tyrannical governments exploiting their populations, all while blaming the West to keep the focus off their corruption.
  • The Media in any free society is one of its preservation's most critical elements. There is undoubtedly a positive correlation between the freedom of a nation's media and the freedom and education of its people. So when the American Mainstream Media (MSM) skews its reporting to support Leftist ideology, all while insisting that it is not, it frustrates me to no end. The MSM of America, ironically, has become a primary vehicle of enemies who seek to destroy our greatness; sometimes the MSM seems oblivious to this. That's why I refer to them as the "Useful Idiots" and why I participate fairly frequently at

There are more, and in these pages we'll talk more about them, I'm sure. I'm glad you are here. Lets discuss these things and enjoy a beer and a cigar. As mentioned earlier, we are a Cigar friendly environment. If you don't like the smoke, go to Starbucks.

All that, and we are still the cheapest oil change in the Western Suburbs.