Friday, September 5, 2014

Fascination

Spencer Dryden



I've made no secret that I have been captivated by female allure since early in life. Female allure is a fascination I can't act on much outside of my fantasies. In real life I am a handyman, an inventor and a web videographer. One reason for the pen name is that I have produced a couple dozen DIY videos under my real name. I take my video camera with me on repair jobs and show viewers what real world repair problems look like. Several of my videos have surpassed the 100,000 views threshold. I don't want crossover from G to X rated material.

I have a fascination with how things work and how the could be improved. When I encounter  something that has died, be it a faucet, disposer, light fixture, I'll often bring it home to my little shop of horrors and do a detailed autopsy to find the real cause of the failure. (Are you getting the sense there is a little OCD in my make-up?)

My longest running fascination, though has been with improving table top charcoal grills (yawn). I love grilled food. I grill out all year long, even when it is below zero in the frozen tundra where I live. I'd grill out every day if my wife didn't insist we eat something other than roasted animal flesh. (I know, men and fire. Well I'm 5% Neanderthal according to 23andme. What do you expect?)

My tinkering with grills began in 1982 after my divorce. I loved charcoal grilling then, but suddenly alone, I hated the idea of using so much charcoal to cook a single hamburger. I thought there must be a way to design a grill that would cook like the monster name brand, but with less charcoal.

I wasn't very handy then but I started building working prototypes. I wish I had taken pictures. I began to read, researching grilling in an era long before Google. I got a friend to draw a concept picture for me. (I still have) I submitted my idea to a university based invention evaluation service. I knew with proper development my idea would work.

I even had a market in mind, me. Single adults. Single adults are the largest segment in the classification of households. Today single adults, living alone are 26% of the households in the US. They claim by survey to love grilled food but they don't grill as often as families. I wonder why? I've said it's because they can't stand wasting so much charcoal on one serving. I have no proof. The surveys don't ask enough questions. It's a giant market, currently overlooked by many consumer product and service industries.

For over 30 years I have continued to make modifications to my prototypes, they improved along with the development of my handyman skills. The world has changed a lot in those years. The introduction of gas grills changed the landscape of grilling. Today there are more gas grills sold than charcoal grills. Grilling has moved from a weekend, family gathering event to a every day food preparation option. The kitchen has extended out to the patio under this new concept of outdoor living.

All during this time I wrote, researched, begged and pleaded for an audience for my grilling innovations. The closest I came to breakthrough was a cable channel launching an invention show featured my grill, (Invention Hunters)  but my segment was cut before airing of the pilot episode. The program was never renewed. As they say in Hollywood, I'm on the cutting floor.

In the inventing world, everything is secret. To show your invention without a full patent or signed non-compete is to give up your claim for the originality of your invention. I only had a provisional patent on my grill which ran out long ago. I've decided to put my ideas out to the universe.



Here is my last prototype. There are three innovations in this design that may not be obvious to a non-griller. Let me point them out. Table top grills are inherently unstable, forcing the operator to grab the hot grill with heat protection like a hot pad or mitten. My grill has a wooden handle that allows the operator to hold the grill with an unprotected hand-much safer and more precise control.

The second innovation is the use of an expanded steel griddle. The cross-hatched structure spreads heat more evenly over the griddle than the conventional parallel bar style griddles and also allows for cooking flaky items like fish and vegetables directly on the griddle.

The third innovation goes back to my original quest of reducing the amount of charcoal. Charcoal works best when the coals are stacked three deep. That takes a large pile in a conventional grill.  The conical shape of the fire chamber in my grill compresses the charcoal yielding much more heat than a similar pile unrestrained. My grill cooks anything that can be cooked on a grill with only a third of the charcoal. Then, of course, I have a domed hood for heat control and indirect cooking.

I should be walking down the street lighting Cuban cigars with hundred dollar bills. In reality I'm am $50,000 of development away from anyone taking my ideas seriously.

But for thirty years I have been enjoying grilled food on one of my many prototypes. Funny how a simple fascination turned into a life time of  tinkering with no other result than the simple pleasure.

 

 

 

9 comments:

  1. How cool to bring your ideas at least to the prototype stage. Your conical idea is brilliant and sounds like a winner!!! All best for the marketing end of it.

    The two things I don't like about Webber is that once you take the lid off, you need to find a place to put it down, and the grill itself isn't adjustable. Years ago, I found a brand, "Mecco" that was basically rectangular, had a hinged lid and adjustable grill, which seemed to make it more efficient. You may want to consider those elements.

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    1. Daddy:
      Hello from sunndy Florida.

      Yes, the top is a pain I know the grill you are talking about. I'm done inventing so I leave that up to you.

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  2. I really admire your persistence! And it's a shame, considering that the single-person households are so plentiful, that your idea hasn't gone anywhere. How is it that we always hear about people making huge piles of money from their ideas, when the gadget is inevitably silly or useless? But something like this, that would be instantly useful to so many, languishes in obscurity? Sometimes the unfairness of life staggers me.

    Your grill has a lot of good features that eliminate the problems my husband has always complained about in smaller grills. Too bad the big boys, like Webber, don't want to buy your ideas.

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    1. Fiona:
      I've reached a zen-like acceptance that some things just don't happen. Success books are written by the tiny percentage for whom the cards fall just right. For everyone one of them there thousands who did everything right, but it still turned out wrong. It's like writing except you can easily sink ten of thousands of dollars into an invention before you come to your senses. Protecting your writing is far easier than protecting an invention.

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  3. This looks like something I would buy, Spencer. Your innovations make a lot of sense.

    Anyway, you have the satisfaction of the creator - even if not the delights of being a millionaire.

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  4. The prototype looks as though it might even be reasonable portable, for camping trips or fleeing from the zombie apocalypse. And ones)you make yourself could be works of craftsmanship that might be sold at craft fairs. But realistically, of course, without the economy of scale they'd have to sell for too much to be practical. I suppose you might open-source it by selling an article with directions for construction and illustrations to someplace like Popular Mechanics, but that sort of writing may not pay any more than erotica. (Does Popular Mechanics even exist any more?)

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    Replies
    1. Sacchi:
      Great suggestions. Of course, fleeing the Zombie Apocalypse, (LOL) why didn't I think of that?

      I have put another one of my inventions into an as of yet unpublished story-and it leads directly to sex. How's that for a tease?

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  5. I totally want that grill. I can imagine it's been frustrating to work at it for so long, but it looks awesome and I'd be confident that you'd figured out the issues that need to be addressed to make it work right.

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  6. That does look like an interesting grill, and I took note of the thing about coals three deep. I hadn;t heard that before.

    Where I live BBQ is practically a religion complete with animal sacrifice. Also I think cooking with charcoal is the man's way of cooking. Smoke fire. A high wire act without a net. Cooking with gas is like cooking on your stove, it's like cheating. With coal you can take a terrifyingly expensive cut of meat that your family is waiting on - and totally destroy it.

    I remember my first attempt at a brisket. I used a complicated recipe from Gourmet magazine that involved several ingredients, marinade, smoke, foil and stretches of time. I bought a beef brisket that cost over $30. It took hours. It smelled gorgeous. It looked gorgeous, like an artfully glazed piece of ceramic.

    Which in fact it was.

    It was impenetrable. It could not be pierced with a knife. I rapped it against a plate - it broke the plate. It`could not actually be scratched. My family was furious. We had hot dogs.

    Looking back,if I had taken good notes I might have sold that process to NASA to produce low cost heat tiles for the space shuttle made from beef. Talk about inventions. What an opportunity lost.

    Garce

    ReplyDelete