Dave Barnhart

No, not those Dave Barnharts. I’m this Dave Barnhart. I live in Phoenix, AZ and have since 1966.


If you knew me in my 20’s you may have known me as Barney Barnhart instead of Dave Barnhart.

Some of Dave Barnhart’s popular websites and blogs:

Fumbling Foodie

The airplane I built

A website about shooting sports, ammunition reloading, and bullet casting

A Mercedes-Benz 300E I used to own

My current Mercedes-Benz

A blog I’ll finish someday about French Pastry

A blog I started about breadmaking

My ham radio blog

A bit of silliness

I also build websites. Here are two of them:

Buyer Persona Institute


Social Media Thoughts

Many years ago – before the term ‘Social Media’ had been invented – it existed as gathering places on the internet. We called them (and still do) forums or message boards. A forum was dedicated to a single topic and people with an interest in that topic would congregate there.

Once upon a time I owned an older Mercedes-Benz and belonged to a forum dedicated to the sharing of information about maintaining these cars. Many members of the forum were experts in this area. Some were actually certified Mercedes-Benz mechanics. If you had a question or problem with your Mercedes-Benz car, you could post it in the forum and be guaranteed of receiving several high-quality answers.

A second characteristic of that forum was that it was populated by people from all walks of life that were experts in their own field. You could ask a question about your heat pump and the ‘heat pump guys’ would answer, again with high-quality answers.

A third characteristic of that forum was that each member had a reputation. You soon learned who you could trust.

There were (and still are) thousands of forums just like that on the internet. I belong to several such forums:

  • Banjo Hangout for banjo players and enthusiasts
  • Nikonians for Nikon camera owners
  • CastBoolits for people who cast their own lead bullets
  • Acurazine for Acura owners

These topic-specific forums still exist and are still active today. These forums are still filled with polite people engaged in polite conversation.

When Facebook and Twitter first emerged, they were polite places too, but that has changed. Now it is impossible to to be on Facebook or Twitter and avoid the acrimony.

As a result, I’m finding myself gravitating back to the ‘old ways’. I’m spending more time in Nikonians, BanjoHangout, and other forums dedicated to my hobbies. I’m digging up blogs about my hobbies and using an RSS reader to read them. I’m spending less time on Facebook. And my world is a more peaceful place.

1 Year Anniversary

We made it. Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of moving into this house, our retirement home.  Things have worked out better than I dared to hope. I’m in a really good place right now, geographically, emotionally, and financially.  I’m now on Medicare with better coverage than I’ve ever had at a price I have not paid in ten years.

The next milestone is in three months when I’ll start drawing Social Security benefits.  That will add nicely to the monthly income.

A Message to my Friends in their Forties

I turned 65 a few weeks ago and am enjoying it.  Though I’ll probably never play ice hockey again I have some great memories: Playing Defense, skating backward at 30mph, matching the wingman coming at me with the puck, matching his every move, intent on driving him away from the net and into the boards. Building the airplane. Converting a carport into a garage, doing a better job than the licensed contractor across the street. Raising my son into the fine man he has become.

Having said that, all that packing and moving last year was a very pointed reminder that I am no longer 19 years old.

Last night I was talking with a new acquaintance who told me she had just turned 41.  My advice: Make Memories Now.  Make sure you dedicate some of the next 15-20 years doing things that you’ll be able to fondly look back on in later life.


I made it

I turn 65 in a few days, which means that yesterday my Medicare coverage officially began.  And I could not be happier. I worked with an insurance agency in Prescott, AZ and now have coverage that is better than I have had in decades at a price I have not paid in ten years.

When I executed the plan to sell my big house in Phoenix and move out there in the country, I was forced to take a risk: I could no longer afford the $1600/month health insurance premiums.  I switched to short term catastrophic health insurance.  It was cheap but the coverage was lousy.

I just had to make it work for a year until I could get on Medicare, and now I’m there.

And in 16 months Sweet Lady Wife will turn 65 and she’ll be on Medicare (I have her on Medi-Share now).  At that point I’ll be paying about $500/month for excellent health insurance for the two of us.

Happy. Happy. Happy.

Living Well, Cheaply

It’s become a game: Figuring out how cheaply we can live well. Not long after we moved out here into the country, I realized that our monthly expenses are less than half of what they were in the big city. And I discovered that life here runs at a much slower more laid back pace.

A long time ago, a friend in the city was complaining that he needed some work done on this mountain cabin. He could find people who had the skills he needed, but none of them had the ‘hustle’ needed to take on the job. I understand now.  It’s called ‘working to live’, not ‘living to work’.

I’m going to apply for my Social Security benefits a few months early.  That will cover a big portion of my monthly expenses.  As a result, the amount of income I will have to generate each month will be 20%-25% of what it was a year ago. When the car and my little bit of credit card debt are paid off we can live off almost nothing, and live well.

Tonight I’m making Grilled Salmon Paella for dinner. Once a month a buy a whole side of salmon at Costco and so one night a week we have salmon.  The rest of the ingredients (rice, sausage, spices) cost next to nothing. I buy pork shoulder 15 pounds at a time and grind my own sausage. Homemade sausage ravioli becomes very inexpensive. I found a farmer up here who sells me fresh eggs for $2/dozen (less than half the cost in the supermarket).

So the question keeps popping into my mind: What else can I do differently that saves me money but still allow me to live well? I’ve found a blog, Mr. Money Mustache who has lived this quest his whole life and so I’m spending some time reading it.

I’m already thinking about putting in a pellet stove before next winter because there are a lot more BTUs per dollar from wood pellets than from electricity.



Finding The Pony

There are many variations to the story about the exuberantly optimistic boy who, when presented with a huge pile of horse manure, began jumping excitedly. He dove into the pile and began digging around. When asked why, he replied that with this much manure there was bound to be a pony in there somewhere.

I once told a friend that one of the things I admired about her was that whenever faced with adversity she always began searching for the pony (and usually found it).

Earlier this year I was faced with just such a pile of manure. My biggest client was undergoing some changes and the probability was high that I would see a significant drop in income.  Momentary images of home foreclosure and car repossession flashed through my head.

My second reaction was to begin  a search for new sources of replacement revenue, but my first few attempts were not fruitful. It looked like a tough stressful slog.

Then a little voice said, “Hey, you know that plan you’ve had in the back of your head?  That may be the answer to your problems.”  I had long ago said that when the value of my home got high enough I would sell and buy something – probably smaller – that I could pay cash for. My wife’s input was that if we did so she wanted to move out of the big city and into some place more rural.

The value of my home had risen dramatically in the past year.  A quick check of rural home prices revealed that it might just be possible.  My wife and I took a hard look at the budget and it was apparent that by losing the mortgage and some other expenses, we could live quite well without my biggest client’s revenue.

Three-and-a-half months later, we sit in a jewell of a home about 50 miles from the big city – a home that we own free and clear.  Not only that, we’ve cut our expenses in half. (Our car insurance went down by $950/yr for example.)

And as a result, We’re living a much more stress-free relaxing life.  No big city crowds. No big city traffic.  No big city smog. No big city noise. With a much smaller ‘nut’ to crack every month, I can be much more picky about the clients and projects I take on.  I have much more free time – time for my old hobbies.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people say, “Oh I wish I could move into the country to a place all mine.”  I’ve realized that I’m living a dream held by many.

For me, I think of it as finding the pony.

Dave Barnhart Has a Little Fun

“Hello I’m from Microsoft and your computer is sending us messages that it is full of viruses”

Have you received one of those calls?  I get them all the time. I have fun with them, particularly since I’m on a Mac.

Today I managed to keep the guy on the phone for 25 minutes before he gave up in despair.  I play really dumb, as in:

Him: “Click on the Start button”
Me: “The What?”
Him: “The “Windows Start button”
Me: “I don’t see a button named Start”
Him: It’s that button in the taskbar with four little flags.
Me: What’s a Taskbar?”

Then about every 5 minutes I say “Hold on a minute I have to let the cat out.” then I wait 2-3 minutes before getting back on the phone.  About 2 minutes later I say “Hang on I have to let the cat back in.”  The guy today got a little impatient with these constant interruptions so I launched into a story about how I rescued my cat from the Humane Society and he was there in that cold little cage and he was scared and confused, etc etc.)

I figure if I can drive enough of them to suicide it will be worth the time spent.

Dave Barnhart’s Food Blog

I am a gourmet chef and fame a food blog called The Fumbling Foodie.


My passion is taking people who say “I can’t cook” or “I wish I could cook like that” and show then that they CAN cook like that.

I inspire them to cook.

I give then the confidence that they can cook like that.

Fumbling Foodie is fiul of recipes that are simple and easy to prepare and make dinner guests go ‘wow!’