Not long ago, I received an unusual note in my email inbox; A San Diego construction company owner, Brian Behncke, came up with an ecologically friendly alternative to filling the local land fills with wood scraps and imperfect boards, he up-cycles cedar fencing into several unique and worthwhile consumer products, including wine gift boxes, that he would like to make available wholesale to wineries, tasting rooms, and gift shops. Brian is also learning the world of online and direct retail sales. A new and unfamiliar business model, Brian approached me as part of a larger marketing effort to get the word out about his products.

8point8 makes attractive useful products from cedar fencing recovered just before going to the landfill

Brian’s wood reuse company 8point8 uses recovered cedar and redwood planks, and has a growing line of products; from boxes, totes, and displays for wine to raised bowl feeders for dogs and cats, from wooden fruit bowls to wooden herb gardens, seed trays and planters, from wooden plant stands to outdoor chair-side personal cocktail tables.

Online shopping site

Brian asked if he could send an item or two, and if I would provide feedback. I love recycled, upcycled, reclaimed, and green reuse initiatives, and I let Brian know that I would love to write about 8point8, his wood reuse company and his line of available products.

The functionality of 8point8’s products, as much as the charm of their eco-ethic, appealed to me immediately

When the box arrived, I assumed that the delivery man was bringing another wine shipment. When I opened the box, I was greeted with the beautiful perfume of cedar, a lovely aroma, rich and redolent, pleasing and welcome.

I unpacked three items, a handsomely well constructed presentation wine box with hinges and a latch, a traditional styled unfinished cedar fruit bowl, and a more unusual rustic design cedar fruit bowl.

This, for me, is the winner in the Wine Item offerings

The wine box is incredibly well made. It will help upscale a bottle of wine from a just picked up at the store kind of gift into a one of a kind thoughtfully presented gift. I like it because I am a right angle, squared, 90° kind of a guy. For those with an interest in unusual design, 8point8 offers 1, 2, and 3 bottle wine totes in an unusual eye catching slanted style.

The unusual design aesthetic behind 8point8 on display

Of the two wooden fruit bowls I received, I preferred the more narrow, but longer, design of the more unusual rustic bowl. Measuring 7.5″ x 14″ x 6″ deep, this bowl fit more perfectly on my limited countertop than the wider but smaller capacity glass bowl it replaced. I cook, this bowl fir my kitchen perfectly. Brian can personalize this piece with a brand of up to 10 letters for $5 which turns this great fruit bowl into a unique one of a kind gift. 8point8 also has a larger 8″ x 19″ x 8″ deep extra large version of this bowl design for just two dollars more.

This fruit bowl is the perfect size and design for my kitchen

The more traditional fruit bowl is beautiful; 5″ x 5″ square at its base, tapering to 12″ x 12″ at the top, and 5″ deep, this is the bowl I imagine most people would want in the center of a table. I have a very small house, and did not know initially what I was going to do with this larger bowl, so it sat unused next to the box it was shipped in.

I think this would be the more popular shape and size bowl, but I didn’t know what to do with it

Later that night, any question about how I would use the large wooden bowl was answered when my cat repurposed the fruit bowl as his bed. The following morning, sleeping position changed, my cat was still in the bowl, and the perfection of the bowl size was confirmed.

My cat knew exactly what to do with what had been intended as a large fruit bowl.

Unintentional cat beds are not the only items 8point8 offers pet owners, there are a number of products offered to raise the water and food bowl of your dog or cat off of the ground.

Dog Feed and Water Station – 20″ x 11″ x 8″ high

Cat, or small dog, Feeder

Also, new since Brian contacted me are decorative small tables and stands, and garden items.

The newest, and my favorite, item offered by 8point8 – the Herb Garden Boxes

I just started planting this week, so the garden items are of special interest to me. In particular, I love the incredibly attractive wooden herb garden pots in a wood tray. I cook, and am constantly buying ridiculously expensive fresh herbs for recipes. This is a foodie’s dream item.

In addition to offering their product line to consumers directly through their online store site, I think that Brian and 8point8 would do well to market their items directly to consumers at high end art and craft shows. I have a lot of experience doing shows, selling a wine accessory directly to consumers, and I can see these items, appealing to wine lovers, food lovers, pet lovers, and gardening enthusiast. I see an enormous gifting potential, so multiple item sales. I see the opportunity to captivate show attendees and the conversion from attendee to customer with the story of the business. Solidly made, attractive products, with functional use, made from cedar fencing bound for the dump – I can see a nice business, generating solid revenue on weekends.

PRICE LIST:

6 Wooden Pot Herb Garden $29.95

Dog Feeder $34.95

Cat Feeder $34.00

Hinged Wine Box $14.95

Three bottle slanted tote $19.99

Traditional Style Fruit Bowl $16.99

Rustic Style Fruit Bowl $16.99

Extra Large Rustic Style Fruit Bowl $18.95

These are just a few of the 40 items Brian is currently offering through his company 8point8’s store site. Visit the site to see more pictures, more items, and to shop for yourself or for a well considered gift for family or a friend.

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I have a bad tooth. I visited the dentist and it will be extracted, but first I have to undergo a week long treatment of Penicillin to clean up an infection in the tooth.

I recently wrote elsewhere about not being able to enjoy wine with food this week, as my treatment of antibiotics meant I could not consume alcohol.

I received two interesting responses; one friend said that the prohibition on consuming alcohol while taking antibiotics was unnecessary and just a wives tale, while the other response came from his online new bff, a nurse, who said that alcohol actually decreases the effectiveness of the medicine.

The Genesis of the myth:

“When I was a young doctor, I found that whenever I prescribed antibiotics for someone, they always said to me, “Doctor, I can’t have a drink “while I’m on these, can I?” It wasn’t something they’d taught me in medical school. I had a good look in the books – couldn’t find anything about it there. So I wondered, “Where does this story come from?” Well, the myth began at what used to be called the VD clinics – what are now known as the sexual health centres. The first true antibiotic was penicillin. It proved remarkably effective in curing some very nasty ailments. The problem was it didn’t stop people having a few drinks and having more fun. If they took alcohol while on penicillin, they might get frisky and pass on the disease before the penicillin could clear it up…It’s nothing to do with a real interaction between penicillin and alcohol…Nothing to do with the pharmacology…It was a moral agenda to keep people under control.” – Dr. Nick Carr and Dr. Norman Roth

From the Mayo Clinic:

“Alcohol doesn’t diminish the effectiveness of most antibiotics.” – James M Steckelberg, M.D.

From steadyhealth.com:

“Only few classes of antibiotics should be avoided when drinking alcohol (Peniciilin is not among them).”

From the National Health Service of England:

“It is unlikely that drinking alcohol in moderation will cause problems if you are taking most common antibiotics.”

The British Journal of Medicine also states unequivocally that the assumption that patients should avoid alcohol when taking any antibiotics “has no foundation,” and goes on to examine the widespread the myth about antibiotics and alcohol both among patients and medical clinic staff – a pilot survey showed that 76% of clinic staff believed the myth.

My favorite bit of research yielded a delightful new word to me. Karl S. Kruszelnicki used the term “mythconception” to describe the assertion that alcohol can not be consumed while taking most antibiotics.

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I wrote a piece months ago about drinking and pregnancy, and pointed at the wealth of evidence pointing at healthier babies, and safer deliveries, born of mothers who consumed moderate amounts of wine during pregnancy.

My article is well linked on several pregnancy sites, and never fails to stir some debate on the subject. I used to want to scream when I read knee jerk, prohibitionist, anti science nonsense in some of the posts that appeared in those debate threads. I never responded because I am a guy, and right or wrong, smart or not, these women were doing the best they could during their pregnancies, and I certainly couldn’t fault them for making choices based in good faith but bad science.

I have no room whatsoever to disrespect these women even in my mind for choosing to abstain from even moderate consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, even when faced with evidence of a benefit in that consumption. They are making an emotional choice about a fetus, about an unborn child. Their anti-science overabundance of caution is perhaps noble even.

In spite of the overwhelming medical evidence that there is no effect on Penicillin’s efficacy were I to consume a moderate amount of wine with dinner, I find my previously held mythconception comfortable, and I do not feel easy about combining alcohol and medication.

Choosing not to drink wine for non-existent medical reasons just smacks of superstitious thinking. I know I am being ridiculous, but the power of the lie is stronger than the truth.

Influenced by wrong information, knowing it to be wrong, I have found a new respect for others who make foolish choices based on similarly persuasive wrong data.

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This week, to make up for a lacking flavor element wine adds to a meal, I have been cooking food using extra layers of delicious ingredients.

For breakfast yesterday, I cooked blueberry pancakes with butter and pure maple syrup. High quality ingredients make for amazing results; this was simple, but absolutely delicious.

For dinner, I cooked my version of Steak au Poivre. I cut six Filet Mignon from a whole beef tenderloin.  I heated torn tarragon and 10 crushed garlic cloves in olive oil on the stove, then after cooling, I strained the flavor infused oil into a bowl. I cracked an equal volume of fresh black peppercorns and added them to the tarragon garlic infused oil, making a vacuum bag marinade for the Filet Mignon. I cooked the steaks in black cast iron, then deglazed the pan with wine, reduced it, and added butter to make a simple and delicious sauce for the pepper crusted Filet Mignon. This was easy to make, just a little fancier than steak on the grill, and was a multi layered taste sensation.

I can say that there are a host of red wines that would have made last night’s dinner even more delicious (Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon), but it is good to know that I can cook great food that can stand by itself for when I have friends visit who can’t or don’t drink alcohol.

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Last night as I lay in bed before falling asleep, I listened to rain fall and fall, seemingly without end, and I thought of the potential impact on the vineyards where grapes are grown for wine.

Heavy rains coming shortly after bud break can lead to a crop loss. Rot and mold can set, buds can fall off the vine, valuable topsoil can be eroded on hillside vineyard locations, and the buds may be unable to self pollinate and grapes do not form.

Vineyard owners hate big rains this time of the year, they lose valuable crop.

Many wineries, and winemakers, love big rains this time of the year; nature’s decrease in crop set can lead to increased flavor in the remaining grapes, leading to more delicious wines.