I’m a unabashed fan of certain things.  In line with recent “regulations” regarding “blogs”, “bloggers” are supposed to tell you when they’re talking about something they received gratis from a company.  So let me say this up front.  My opinion is NEVER for sale.  Never.
If I talk about something and say I like it or recommend it, it’s because I like it, and recommend it.  In fact – of anything I’ve ever received gratis from anyone in the industry, it has always been from a company that I already appreciated, admired, and spent a fair chunk of change with/on!   And to top it off, it’s generally quite rare that I’m offered (or accept) gifts from folks in the industry…it’s not like manufacturers are bending over to give me swag and I’ve always felt there are folks much more deserving than myself!
At any rate, I figured I should tell you a bit about the things I’m a fan of, and why.
Mountain Dew

I’m a fan of Mountain Dew because it’s simply delicious.  Refreshing and satisfying to my sweet tooth, with all the kick I need.  Well, all the kick I needed before I was a father, on your average day, in place of morning coffee.  Hey, I’m a software developer.  We drink Mountain Dew.  It’s an unspoken rule.  But when Mt. Dew isn’t cutting it, there’s always…
…Red Bull!

Some of you no doubt think it tastes like CRAP.  I love Red Bull.  Curiously, I find it far from SWEET, no, to me it’s more like the best ginger ale I’ve ever tasted.  And yes, it has kick.  LOTS of it.  If you are wise you consume it sparingly.  This is the heavy duty stuff you break out when you’re getting up at 4:00 AM to go fly fishing or in need of an all night programming marathon.  So I’m a fan of Red Bull.  Not to mention their inventive ad campaigns, their Flugtag, and their sponsoring Airplane Racing and getting it on TV.
Beer Cozies

I’m a fan of Beer Cozies.  Especially ones that remind you of the rear end of a fish.  Given to me by a “fish guy” no less.

They keep my favorite “pick me ups” cool when working in a hot, humid fishroom at 2:00 AM.  They also keep their namesake, BEER, cool too.

Yes, I’m a fan of good beer too.  3 of my favorites are shown here, as well as one I drink because it reminds me of my wife.  Care to guess which brew #4 is?  I’m a fan of beer because it too is refreshing, but in direct opposition to my caffeine-laden life bloods, sometimes a beer is just more appropriate.  But this is really a subtopic on beer-cozies.
Besides keeping my beverage of choice cool, the beer cozy pictured is incredibly helpful in deciphering an otherwise chaotic environment.  What once was a beverage lost in the shuffle…

…now is a beverage FOUND!

Yes, the right beer cozy makes it easy to find your beverage even in the most extremely visually complex environment…

…and can really help you from grabbing the wrong “drink” in your fishroom fridge.

And there’s much more to be a fan of.  Like…
“Blank Canvases”

Yes, this is a glimpse into a portion of the current basement fishroom that contains the Lightning Maroon Clownfish (third 24 gallon nanocube, net breeder at left front).  Hey, it’s been a crazy 2 months.  The tanks at far right are but a few of the 60 or so waiting for the right time.
Still, I can’t help but mention those great orange Beer Cozies in the shot.  They were courtesy of….
…fellow marine fish breeder Rod Beuhler!

Well, more specifically, Rod Buehler, creator of inventive beer cozies being used in inventive ways to market innovative products.  Example?

That’s right – sample packs of “Rod’s Food” in a “Rod’s Food Beer Cozy” to keep your sample from thawing out while you walk around whatever convention or event it is where you just met Rod and got a sample of his SWELL FOOD!
Wait, how does being a fan of Reefbuilders tie into all this?  Well, it’s where I recently published a story on the importance of feeding quality food frequently, and how I learned the hard way just how very important high quality food (and frequent feeding) is.  What I didn’t mention in that article is the relative “dirth” of “quality foods” here in Duluth MN.  If I’m in a pinch, I can find some of the frozen foods I like locally, but *most* frozen foods have to be ordered online in bulk and shipped to me (one of the many reasons I’m a fan of Drs. Foster and Smith Aquatics)  I thought I was “golden”, but apparently the only place you can get one of my favorite foods (ah..coming full circle now) is the local fish store?
I begged Rod to sell me his food directly, but since I’m not a shop (and have yet to set up as a formalized hatchery), that goes against the rules (bravo to a man who’s sticking by his business practices!).  I used to buy Rod’s food in from my LFS’s in Chicago, but now my closest store is almost 3 hours away (another thing I’m a fan of, Saltwater Empire and Fritz!).  So fellow fish breeder Rod sent me a bunch of food and cozies, and my fish are once again eating high quality frozen food (and my favorite beverages / live blood is finally staying COLD in my fishroom).
Of course, I’ve been handing out samples of Rod’s food to my local club members and local stores.  I’m hoping I can convince one or two of my local shops to carry Rod’s Food so I don’t have to be an ongoing beggar…afterall, I admit I was a skeptic years back when some local Illinois guy was making food and selling it, but once I finally tried it, I was hooked.  “Fish Only Blend” (we don’t need no stinking corals!) is my personal favorite, but I’m intrigued by his new fish eggs pack – I can’t find Fish King eggs anywhere these days, but maybe I can get some of Rod’s brand in the future!
So yes, while I feed a varied diet of high quality foods, one of my personal favorites just came through for me and my fishroom.   I’ve seen imitators out there, but strongly suggest you accept no substitutes.  If you haven’t tried it yet, you should.  It has everything I’d put into food if I was making it myself.  It gets a great feeding response.  It has “something for everyone” in the tank.  I know it’s high quality, and that’s what I NEED as a fish breeder.  If it’s good enough to produce “Rod’s Onyx” then it’s certainly good enough for my projects.  The Lightning Clownfish (brand new picture!!! – Fan of my wife’s Nikon D5000 too) certainly seems to endorse it…

(yes, I am truly thankful and ecstatic for Rod Buehler’s continuing support of my efforts both as a food maker and a fellow clownfish breeder.  Rod is one of those fish friends who I’m grateful for because of ALL that they contribute to the hobby…it’s not just a business.  I encourage YOU to be a fan of the people and companies who do quality things that impact your own efforts…these are the people that make a difference!  And yes, I just found out you can even “like” (formerly become a fan of) Rod’s Food on Facebook!)
So, to Rod Buehler and Rod’s Food, tonight, all of the Maroon Clowns and I raise a cozy to you in a toast of thanks!  Since it’s 3:45 AM and Ethan just went to bed, might as well make it a Red Bull in that cozy and pull the all-nighter…

(I’m also a fan of not taking yourself TOO seriously and taking a joke way too far).
Have a great 4th of July holiday for those of you in the United States!  Next update, back to the serious business, talking about the PNG Maroons sent to me by Blue Zoo Aquatics from Seasmart (didn’t think I’d even need to mention that I’m a fan of them!)