There’s This Thing About Barbecue (BBQ)

I love food. This is no secret. During 2018, I finally stumbled across BBQ that I truly found amazing — Iron Pig Alehouse.

In San Diego, we have this place called Phil’s BBQ. Most people love it. I like them well enough, but wasn’t as emotionally impressed as so many people talk about it. Heresy, I know 😉

Nevertheless, I stumbled across some BBQ YouTube videos (later to be linked)… and, saw something called Texas style BBQ Brisket. It intrigued me.

Juicy. Beef. BBQ smoke flavors. Not dry. Not over sauced. Done deal… IF, it held up to its reputation. Iron Pig, did.

Hence, started my journey of rabbit holes on how to best do BBQ at home. Now, this started back when we were still in the condo — and, their HOA rules did NOT allow for wood fires. Sad beans. Fortunately, as will be explained in a later post today (this New Year’s Day 2019 super release series)… we moved! AND, I got myself a BBQ offset smoker.

Here are some of the early results.

View this post on Instagram

Sunday afternoon backyard #barbecue. #babybackribs #porkbelly #bbq #barbeque #marshmellow #smores #FAMILYTIME

A post shared by Ben Fung (@drbenfung) on

Reflecting On My Home BBQ Results:

  1.  I’ve cooked two hole briskets so far. The first one on Father’s Day 2018… EPIC. Basically perfect. The 2nd one, I some how didn’t control the heat as well… and, it came out super dry at the flat — the point was “okay.” The fat could’ve been rendered a bit better.
  2. Pork Shoulder or Pulled Pork is something I’ve gotten right every time. It’s pretty forgiving. And, I was able to feet an entire contracting crew during the wrap up of our new living situation’s refurbishment.
  3. Pork Belly. I REALLY need to figure out how to make the skin crispy. I love all these meats, but pork belly… I LOVE it because it reminds me of my paternal grandmother’s Taiwanese style stewed pork and rice. But, I like the crispy skin because of the Cantonese/Hong Kong style foods I’ve grown to love being a West coast kid. So, this is my next big project… making BBQ belly CRISPY.
  4. Ribs. RIIIIIIBS. Ribs, specifically baby back over spare… are probably my best work to date. I’ve gotten super consistent with them and have messed around with various styles of rub and sauce / no sauce. Suffice to say, Trader Joe’s Carolina Gold is probably the best finishing sauce I’ve found and creates a really nice glaze without glopping the rub.

BBQ videos. Here are some of my faves:

  • Franklin BBQ. Be sure to check out their brisket, pulled pork, and ribs series. [Watch:]
  • Why The Best Southern Barbecue Takes Weeks To Make [Watch:]
  • Best Offset Smoker Modifications | 6 Easy Mods [Watch:]

How much is this method of cooking is art or science or honoring the legacy of the past? Probably a bunch of all. Ultimately, barbecue is generally accepted to have been around since human’s have eating meat over fire. Nevertheless, it’s fun to tinker with… try… fail… try again… and perfect one’s method to making some wood fired meats.

Every Day Betterment: A 21 Day Challenge for September 2018

So a little while back… apparently “3 months back” (from when I began writing this post)… I asked everyone on Facebook the question above. And, now… it’s a blog post 🙂

This is how today’s post will work.

  1. The first section shows the Facebook comments for your convenience.
  2. The second section journals when I first attempted each activity or category of activity within the first 21 days of September… attempting in some way to consistently capture as many of these all in one day for the first twenty one days of September that I could (or, could remember).
  3. The third and final section dives into my reflections on this challenge.


Section One

For your convenience, here were the responses as posted chronologically to that Facebook post…

PS. Sorry not everyone’s avatars are populating… #PrivacySettings

Ben Ederer Listen to good music

 Vincent Gutierrez Read at least as much as you look at a screen for entertainment.
Stanton Rehkemper Exercise every day
Tonya Yanok Stop, unplug from tech, clear your mind, and BREATHE… just a few deep breaths can help. Ideally doing this for longer, and even better, outside in green space after a workout, but some days don’t allow for it. It calms the nervous system so you can mentally and physically conquer the day with more clarity.
Dustin Jordan meditate/appreciate what you have
Jared Casazza Prioritize sleep. Decreased sleep quality or quanity is detrimental to every aspect of waking life.
Lissette Holland Meditate or be with Spirit in prayer
 Kelly Duggan Find something to be thankful for
Mark Luttrell Be kind to one another.
Andy Lodato Build relationships
Cameron McIntosh Treat others better tahn you would like to be treated. I treat patients like I would want my family members to be treated. I have used tons of frameworks in pediatric, orthopedic, and neurologic PT with everyone one being successful not because of what I do as a clinician but just who I am as a person and how I treat others
Michael P Gowen Appreciate and be thankful for the important things in your life.
Look up from your phone to appreciate the views in life
Jeff Baldwin Positive Affirmations
Brian Harder Be a little better than you were yestersay
John Brengle Make someone else happy
Paul Jones Help someone.
Rahul Singh Rikhy Put down your phone
Brian Harder Also. Stand on the shoulders of giants. That’s been a HUGE deal in my life.
Mike Makher Sleep a full eight hours, daily
Bryan Stewart Lots of great ideas! I try to get a little podcast and reading time everyday, at least 20 min each. Absolutely feel better!
John Lee Huang SMILE! Also drink a glass of water with squeeze of lemon first thing when you wake up 🙂
Carrie Jose Gove Walk – every person I know over the age of 90 who is still active and healthy and happy does this one thing daily.
Trace McClintock Journal each day
Jordan Gibson Make your bed, every morning. 
If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
Ray Berardinelli Take action!!!!
Jordan Mather Everyday at 3pm stop Everything and say 3 things you are thankful for. Works like a charm.

Section Two: Journal of Attempts

Let’s be honest. With every challenge, you make some marks… you miss some marks. The entries below chronicles the first twenty one days or so of September 2018… and, my extended attempts at these activities / my attempt as keeping entries. (LOL!)


  1. Day One
    • Listen to good music: Capricho Arabe – Tarrega Michael Chapdelaine – Solo Guitar – Steel Strings. I’m actually learning this song; found out later, it’s a masterpiece and can take a lifetime, LOL!
    • Help someone: Someone was begging for food in the local Rubio’s. I tried to offer this person to buy them an entire meal. After some back and forth, they just wanted a slice of of quesadilla.
    • Exercise: Tried to surf the hurricane swell that came in from Hawaii. Almost made it past the breakers on my new shortboard. Instant regret once I got into no-man’s-land. Paddled back. Heh… 😛
    • Make someone else happy: Despite much protest, I prematurely put on my “T-Rex” costume for Halloween. My son couldn’t stop laughing. My wife was “terrified.” And, I was thoroughly embarrassed — worth it 🙂
  2. Day Two
    • Read Manga of Lost Stars
    • Spent some intentional time reflecting and being thankful
  3. Days Three – Five
    • Made bed in the morning
    • Put down my phone and spent an entire evening with my son
    • Journaling via this blog post
  4. Days Five – Ten
  5. Days Eleven – Fifteen
  6. Days Sixteen – Twenty
  7. Day Twenty One

LOL… you’re not misreading, nor is there a loading problem. I failed to journal the remainder of my efforts. Though, I wouldn’t call this challenge a fail… really.

Section Three: Reflections

The first thing I noticed when just gathering the challenge actions were how mindful they were. Most had this theme about self improvement, self prioritization, and self reflection. The remainder were generally others oriented — using the self to better those around us.

Something my wife reminds me to do is that being others oriented shouldn’t come at the cost of being self-deprecating.

After all, in order to care for others… you must first care for yourself. This is a big lesson that many who are in healthcare must learn, and learn over and over.

I will say that it was around this time that I issued another challenge to myself: Be In The Moment.

I had already committed to being “less on demand” while using social media or even in the awareness of being plugged in and/or glued to the screen. This processed helped me really enjoy the Fall/Winter seasons of 2018, and quite honestly… thanks to all these wonderful friends of mine… helped me usher in one of the best holiday season experiences I can recall in recent times… all because this challenge caused me to be far more in the moment and aware of my immediate happenings… rather than being plugged in and notification dependent.

My Encouragement To You

Try this out for yourself! Post something similar on your social platforms, gather a cluster of challenges… and, do your best to follow them through. I doubt it’s realistic nor reasonable to try and upkeep EVERY SINGLE ONE. However, experiencing each and doing one’s best at each attempt — it was a truly edifying and empowering series.

3 Best Waves I’ve Surfed

So, you may have noticed that 1/1/2019 has like — nearly a dozen posts being published. This is because I had so many ideas during 2018… but, well… life happened, lol.
I’ll share a bit about this as my “last” time stamped post for New Year’s Day 2019.
In any case, I wanted to share the top three waves I’ve ever surfed. Around 2008, dang… TEN YEARS AGO… that time marked the prime of my surfing days. I was surfing HUGE waves… I mean, the big waves that news channels and lifeguards told you to stay away from.
Honestly, it was a terrible idea. This past month or so, we had some big storm waves during December of 2018. My wife and I got coffee a few times and drove out to see the waves. Truth be told, they are absolutely enormous, many football field’s lengths out from shore… and, entirely horrifying.
I can NOT believe I used to surf waves like that.
LOL, that said… here are my top 3 waves. I look back with both horror and fondness 😉

1.  Best Wave Ever: Pacific Beach Point
I actually rode two waves that day. I remember it crystal clear. I was on my long board, 9’2″ epoxy. It was low tide — about 0.5 – 1.5 ft above sea level.
I was with one of my groomsmen, Josh. And, it was a Sunday. We totally impromptu’d it out there. I saw the surf report saying it was 5-8 foot waves and thought to myself… “No problem!”
Josh and I went out. We paddled out from the stairs on the side of “The False Point” — or, what we used to call PB Point Minor (versus PB Point and Point Proper, where they now call it “Hairmo’s.”
In any case, these waves were holding form like a video game. It was monstrous and as A-Frame as I’ve ever seen. The surprising thing was they didn’t close out when you think they would. And, this caused many surfers to hesitate during critical moments where one could have made it through the breakers.
I remember just paddling and paddling and paddling into deep ocean. Josh was right behind me… until a pair of building high waves which I made over, and he didn’t quite. Josh got washed into Tourmaline. I made it to the very sparse line up. Most surfers didn’t quite get out that far that day.
And, these local reef spots weren’t so popular in the 2007/2008 era the way they are now.
I remember trying for about 3 waves, realizing I needed to be WAY further down the face of the wave as it formed to properly slide down as I paddled downwards on the face of the wave to accelerate to the needed velocity to actually ride the wave.
I finally told myself, “Screw it. I’m doing this.”
I paddled for this absolutely gigantic wave. And, I started to catch it. But, I felt the board… it didn’t have enough speed and I was too far down to give up now. I pumped up with a butterfly stroke until my chest was at the nose of my longboard and paddled DEEP for a few more strokes.
That did the trick. I started to slide down the wave of the wave and stood up. Realizing I STILL didn’t have enough speed, I started stomping on my board to continue to slide down the face of the wave to gain the velocity I needed to continue riding the thing.
It was the longest ride I’ve ever had in my life. I was in open ocean and was still going… STILL going…. and, I had to keep stomping a few more times until I got to the “usual” break by the reef point.
It was then I caught more speed and enjoyed carving up and down and just standing there and relaxing.
It was so crazy! I just stood and road the board in peace for a bit…. until I finally got to the part of the wave that pushed me into Tourmaline.
It was there that I saw Josh hanging out with a bunch of surfers, watching me come at them. They frantically paddled out of the way, under, or over the wave I was on.
I connected with Josh, who was unfortunately spent. So, I paddled out again — caught another wave, just like the first.
We went in right after.
It was the first big “big” wave I ever caught and to date, the longest ride.
I’ve tried many times since then to replicate the experience, even under very similar conditions. Sadly, it’s never been the same. The waves either moved to much towards the reef area which caused it to close out, or, the water was too turbulent and didn’t allow for that same ride pasted the point, into Tourmaline. It was probably well over a minute long ride.
2. Fastest Wave Ever: Del Mar 15th Street
Again on my trusty 9’2″ longboard. It was a heavy 6 foot day. It was well overhead. And, those of you who have surfed Del Mar know that “Del Mar waves” are consistent… until they aren’t.
Typically, they are good and stay in the same general area — that is, until that monster wave comes from the deep ocean. And, it’s FAR OUT THERE. So far out that some of the fastest paddlers on longboards have trouble getting over the top of these things and anyone in the funboard or shortboard zone… they are toast.
When these huge waves come crashing down, they have mercy on NO ONE.
All you see behind you, should you luck out and get over the top of these things — is an entire beach head of white wash, boards bobbling up and down… and frantic arms trying to find their board and/or leash to get back up again.
It was on one of these days that I caught these MASSIVE rights. They were super smooth but truly fast. Dropping in was like jumping off a 2nd story balcony. I carved up and down these waves about 3 times until they basically crested over my head about as high as a basketball hoop would be.
Both times, I pulled my board up to my knees then launched myself over the top. One time, I felt flat on my board… it hurt, haha. The other time, it was like I got thrown up in the air by a sling shot. Definitely fun 🙂
3. Most Dangerous Wave: Well Overhead at Scripps on a 7’2″ board
At Scripps Beach, I decided to borrow a board, this time from another one of my groomsmen, Brian. He was riding his sister’s 7’2″ funboard that day. I think I was on my old 6’2″ fish and just wasn’t quite getting out there.
The waves were severely well overhead. Most surfers couldn’t get out.
I got lucky with a pair of epic duck dives on that 7’2″… I remember pushing down as hard as I ever could, doing frog kicks two or three times just to get under the turbulence. I want to say, the 2nd duck dive I had to ditch the board as I started to feel myself getting pulled up over the falls.
I finally made it out.
Brian was watching from the shores and I quickly saw my wave. I just went for it. I wasn’t exactly in good position and took a diagonal line to get to a better part to paddle down the face of the wave.
I caught it! And, I started to realize that I needed to, once again, stomp down the face of the wave. And, it was BUMPY. I was super freaked out that I’d hit a rough patch of water and lose balance, getting swallowed up on the way in.
I didn’t realize how much wave down I needed to ride and how much was still forming over my head. Brian told me later that I disappeared behind the wave in front of the one I was riding.
Oblivious to the danger, I rode that sucker all the way home. Epic. And… SO DANGEROUS! 🙁
Two runners up:
    1. We used to just call it “Park” and “Pipe” for the two reef breaks down by Calumet Park. I guess now it’s called Henneman’s and … something else. In any case, I started the day at Henneman’s then went to the pipe as I saw the right forming nicely. There were maybe 4-6 surfers out there that day. I caught, I think 5 waves that morning. They were BIG and very fun / fast. Not so fast I was worried about ditching the wave in time like in Del Mar, but fast enough to enjoy carving and even hanging five. When I finally came back up, watchers and some surfers shook my hand and complimented me on the waves I caught. When I turned around to take a look at what I had just done, I saw the surfers still in the water — the size of ants amongst man eating waves. Crazy…
    2. I’ve always wanted to get good at shortboarding. The only time I was close to getting good was back in college on this 6’0″ hybrid performance fish I had no business buying nor riding, LOL. But, it looked cool. haha.. #WeHaveAllBeenThere. WELPS, this past Summer of 2018, we enjoyed some fun Baja storm waves. They made their way up to Scripps Pier, which is really nice on days around 3-5 foot waves on a high tide. And, that afternoon, it was exactly that. I was able, for the first time, to catch a fairly decent sized wave on this new 6’6″ board I bought this Summer of 2018, and rode it down with a few carves to catch speed. It was a very fun feeling. It was weird though, being on small board — it felt like I was actually going slower and appeared as if I was skimming the water’s surface. Given that Scripps is my new place, I think I’ll be using this as my main board from now on.


First Father-Son Surf Session

So, this past Summer of 2018, I realized that due to family, responsibilities, time, and quite honestly — the danger of surfing winter waves… that I’ve become a fair weather surfer.

I’ve chosen Scripps Beach as my preferred surf spot. Although my “best condition” spots such a Del Mar and PB Point + associated reefs (where I caught two out of three of my best waves ever) have better waves… Scripps in the Summer — it’s just safer 🙂

So, this is us.

It was a ridiculously cute and awesome afternoon. My darling of a wife, who hates the sand…

Well, not so much hates sand… just isn’t a big ocean water person — she was willing to watch Nathan play at the beach head while I spent about 20-30 minutes catching a few ankle slappers.

THEN! I took Nathan into water that was about his waist level deep. He paddled. Sat. Stood. I even guided him down in “riding” some white wash. All with me supporting him of course 😉

He loved it. In fact, he loved it so much that he randomly would assume a prone position on the board to paddle — not always at the best of time, LOL. He started doing that for a week or so at home as well, just laying on the ground pretending he was paddling.

It definitely helped that we took him to swim lessons this past Summer. Hopefully, he continues to enjoy such activities. Outdoors. Active. Healthy. Fun.