Published on July 11th, 2011 @ 07:39:00 am , using 502 words, 105032 views
Yesterday we brewed the last of 2 Great Fermentation kits we've got; we're finishing these up before moving on to the wild world of All Grain Brewing. During the process, Lizz had a food idea involving beer ingredients, and so she went and worked on that while I finished the brew. Her idea involved spent specialty grains and 2 kinds of hops.
I'm not sure if the project is out of "secret" status yet. I'll let her guest-blog on it if so. I will say though, that for a "beer ingredient dessert food," it is everything I'd even imagined such a thing could be. You can definitely taste the beer ingredients, and they work amazingly well with the dessert item too.
A couple of nights ago, we built our mash/lauter tun so that we can move onto all grain brewing - the next logical step in a homebrewer's evolution. We also bought a couple of things at Tuxedo Park Brewers over the weekend. Firstly, a used propane burner, so that we can brew outside, and get our water up to temp a lot faster. The second item was a stir plate, so that we can make yeast starters. It'll will be fun to play with yeast, for sure; we need the "Yeast book" soon.
Lately, during our walks, and dinners, and, well, a lot of the time, we've been theorizing and talking about various beers we want to make. It seems our "house style" is going to follow the motto of FFF ("It's not normal!") We like normal, beer flavored beers, of course, but every time we talk, we come up with new twists for beers.
A beer judge recently told us that during a competition, he judged IPAs and found all of them very uniform; nothing stood out. Well, when the emphasis is on near-slavish style adherence, with everyone aiming for dead-center of the style parameters, what can be expected? It seems people either do that, or go for the EXTREEEEEEEEEEEME hoppiness of the American IPA substyle.
So, with our beers, we will try to make good, balanced beers, that taste good, but have something a little different about them. Even if it's just slightly different malt or hop bills.
Our beer, Fucking Ball ov Sunshine, by the numbers, did not do well in the Brewer's Cup. By our reckoning though, it did perfect. ;) This beer came about by Lizz and I lying in bed, and her blurting out "we have to make a beer with lemon and basil!!!!!!!!!@@@!" Rather than, "let's brew an IPA, and add lemon." The latter is what the judges were wanting: a totally identifiable, normal beer, with a small addition of something. FBoS is not that. It literally a fucking ball of sunshine. It has a lot of lemon character. That's its raison d'etre. And that's what the judges found. It's just not what they wanted. Oh well. The notes were very constructive though, which I'm thankful for.
So soon it's onto all grain brewing and probably better beers!
Published on July 10th, 2011 @ 09:35:00 am , using 286 words, 14712 views
Almost immediately after we arrived, the threatning rain finally arrived.
Like a 'we promise you you WILL get wet' water ride at an amusement park, the rain just fell and fell.
We were inside and had the promise of great beers in sight. The bartender gave us the sampler tray menu and asked us to choose our beers. We did:
We tried Full Circle (kolsch), Golden Cap (saison), Dragon's Milk (strong ale), Charkaoota Rye (smoked goodness), Black Hatter (black IPA) and El Mole Ocho (yum).
I didn't have my notebook with me, so I took no tasting notes whatsoever. Which felt very liberating. I was still a bit... well... off from so little sleep and non adequate nutrition, and I don't think my evaluation skills would have been that great.
We sampled and enjoyed. Our favorites were the El Mole Ocho and the Charkoota Rye, both of which came home with us in bombers.
I had been on a quest for potatoes the night before. Preferably with the skins on. They say that drinking depletes potassium, and whether or not that was the reason, I needed potatoes badly.
After the denial of the Crack Fries at Hopcat, I decided to indulge my potato-age here at New Holland:
Much like the nachos from the night before, they filled a deep need in me and I declared them the perfect fries of the moment!
They also have a distillery. We did sample the gin and the rum but they didn't make rum in the style we prefer (we're big Rhum Barbancourt 5 star fans) and it was going to be hard to unseat my unholy love for Magellan Gin
We headed back towards Grand Rapids.
Published on July 8th, 2011 @ 08:58:00 am , using 1020 words, 4888 views
Friday morning came early.
No matter when we get to sleep, we seem to be incapable of waking up later than 6 or 6:30.
Rise and shine, said my internal clock. I made us our usual roadtrip coffee in the hotel room, thanked Jon for the nachos last night and his kind babysitting of the me that didn't pace too well, and vowed to do better.
We planned to go West, young reader, to New Holland Brewing Co this fine morning. There was a chance of thunderstorms, as would follow us through this whole roadtrip, but that never seems to stop us.
I get my Timbuk2 bag set up for the journey:
Michigan breweries book - check!
Sunglasses - check!
Payment forms - check!
Tattoo balm - check!
My tasting notes are gone. My red spiral notebook is on the lam somewhere in Grand Rapids.
Jon and I focus - where did I last physically touch it at?
Well, this is never a bad thing. It's a nice place and more beer is there.
A Nice Town with One Rude Person
I'd been to Holland, MI ages ago when my mom and I used to take roadtrip vacations up and down the coast of western Michigan. So some parts looked familiar as we drove into town.
The main part of the downtown had lots of interesting shops - a really nice mix of seemingly upscale places and smaller mom-and-pop owned establishments.
Perfect! We can walk around downtown until New Holland Brewing Company opens.
We stopped into the Alpinerose restaurant (web link omitted, since they push music).
What's a girl to do?
I resisted though, as on roadtrips a rule *generally* is 'no dessert'. Alcohol + dessert = a morning of large amounts of regrets.
I'm 40. This morning I felt 80. Whatever I had done to myself the night before, it had given me veins under my eyes that looked marker-drawn, and a sort of weak-kneed walk, punctuated by the fact that though Alpinerose had coffee, it was not what I consider good coffee. So coffee, denied.
But they had some Tazo herbal tea. That would work.
We made our purchase and I asked the person at the cash register and by default the gentleman helping her what interesting things were around / what nice places there may be to walk before New Holland opened.
Well, the gentleman asked, what *kind* of interesting places were we looking for?
"Maybe someplace that tourists tend to miss"
"CityVu bistro, two blocks down thataway"
Cool - food is good (made a mental note).
The lady behind the cash register let me know about some local places to see - meanwhile a woman to Jon's left was really excited that we wanted to walk, and had just the place/places for us to see.
I'm trying to follow 3 conversations at once, luckily one is about my hair and I'm used to that. But generally I'm failing. The Nachos last night were magical, but not magical enough for this.
We sit down and I let Orange Herby tea work its mojo on my tired brain. Thank you Tazo.
The Nice Woman sits down with us and we chat. Her and her husband are dining outside, she will make notes and tell us exactly where the cool park/walking stuff is and be right back.
This could not be better. Being active while you roadtrip is crucial to keep your brain sharp and the liver functioning correctly. Second only to proper hydration.
Jon and I chat, use the restroom, chat more. We figured she was going to make a couple of little notes.
She came back, and sat down. We got a really nicely detailed guide of where to find the walking paths she talked about, rainy day stuff to do in Holland, a concert in the park that night, and where the state park was and how great it would be to watch the impending storm roll in from the park.
Good people exist. =)
She also raises some of her own meat, has a small garden and supports local foods. So Serendipity again raises her beautiful face towards us. We talk for awhile, and she excuses herself to go out and eat with her husband on the patio. Thank you again to her - you are a bright spot of sunny goodness in Holland.
We amble down the row of shops and pick up some interesting candy bits from Fabiano's Holland Peanut Store. Jones Soda fizzy candy, REAL black liquorice cats, 2 truffles. They make it difficult to choose just a few things...
We see that it's about to pour, but we also know that we Really Must Walk.
I divest of everything that can be damaged by rain, and we head off a couple of blocks thataway to the park.
We've both got our raincoats on, and we find the park and walk. I didn't have my phone, so I can't post the photos, but part of it has a boardwalk that goes through cattail reeds and through a small forest. A gorgeous walk on a pretty-but-gonna-storm morning.
Time passes and we're on the main strip of downtown Holland again. New Holland is about to open.
My friends, I'm used to some weird comments - because I don't look normal. If you take one part of how I look, you can make a judgement on me based on that, but you'd be totally incorrect.
This is around, hm, 10-11am. The town is filling up, mostly with polite sane looking people.
Then -- I'll warn you, this is not family friendly --
A young bro-loooking teen drives by, full car, window down, and informs me that:
"Your hair looks like a smurf came on it"
My jaw tightens. I've heard that line before. Some lame comedian, and this bro thinks he's being clever. But he's just being judgemental.
I want to go all Tank Girl on him. But it's not worth it.
My point of anger is mostly that this is in the middle of a Nice Place, with Nice People - and he's more out of place than I am. *smile*
On to more plesant things as the day continues...
Published on July 8th, 2011 @ 07:52:00 am , using 440 words, 2058 views
This one's about first impressions and the old adage "don't judge a book by its cover."
We were at a pub in the early night, and I noticed a girl. She was fairly pretty, with an "alt" look - and happened to have some very nice tattoos, including one with an element very similar to an element in one of mine. Since both of us have tattoos, and Lizz's look is generally pretty "alt" - we both consider that attractive/a good thing.
So, on first impression/judge a book by its cover, I figured this girl would be very nice and friendly and cool. She was with a few male friends/new acquaintances, so I figured I'd wait for an opening, and then ask her about the tattoo, since again, it had an element similar to one of mine - and it's not an overly common tattoo element.
Over the course of the night, while watching/waiting for said opening, I realized I'd violated the "don't judge a book by its cover" adage - in the opposite way it was meant.
Usually, that adage is trying to get you to judge someone in a negative light just based on appearance/first impression. But in this case, I'd assumed someone would be nice and friendly, based on her appearance and first impression.
From listening to her conversation, I heard her brag of using her look to mooch free drinks off guys, and then just ignore them. All the while she was detailing her exploits, mind you, talking to two male companions, she was using a flirty tone and body language with them, as if she was so sure of herself and her ability to wrest drinks from any male, that even though she was telling them what she did, she expected them to fall for it as well.
Luckily it seemed the guys were having none of it, one of them even basically asking if she put out, her saying "Never! I don't have to!" - and the two guys sharing a knowing look as if to say "Yeah, right... suuuuuure you don't."
I never got my opening, nor did I care, after learning her true nature.
I'm sad that what was probably originally some very meaningful tattoos are now just part of a "free drink magnet" look. I wonder what happens to a person that causes that. She has a lot of very detailed, high quality all-black tattoo work, none of which is flash or even common symbols/designs. It must have been meaningful to her when she got it.
Don't judge a book by its cover, or a person by how they look. You could be wrong either way.
Published on July 7th, 2011 @ 05:16:00 pm , using 361 words, 1630 views
We walk off into the Grand Rapids night from B.O.B. We've got GPS up, and our destination is in sight.
I have no fancy title, nothing clever - because at this point in the night, I'm needing food. I'm not stomach-hungry, but my brain is rattling around in my head.
"If you don't feed me, I will make you wish you had never been born in the morning"
Who am I to argue with that sort of biochemical logic?
We walk into Z's. It's filled with 2-3 ambitious karaoke singers, and a lot of people like us. Folks who are drinking or who have *been* drinking and must eat or they will be roundly punished in the morning.
A singer is doing a respectable version of Pink's "Who Knew" and she gets roundly applauded, mostly by me. I'm pretty enthusiastic about it, and right now, this is the greatest bar that I've ever been in.
My notes of the night say "NACHOS!!!!" all in caps, with exclamation points and all. Jon and I get the Super Nachos .
I decide, because I'm brilliant that way!, that I need more beer. I hear Jon's palm meet his forehead, but I'm not dissuaded. It's fate that I'm here, and they have nachos, and Pink's "Who Knew" and two wonderful singers.
I get a pint of New Holland's Mad Hatter IPA, and it is the best beer I've ever had. I'm singing along, I'm drinking the beer, I'm guzzling water.
The nachos come, and I swear I hear a choir of karaoke angels singing just for me, telling me to eat the nachos. They are the best food I've ever had.
Jon, bless his heart, keeps me from going up and drunkenly wailing into the karaoke machine, and bundles me back to the hotel.
His report is that we tuckered into bed and he said "I love you!".
I responded back with a snore. *looks a bit ashamed*. I fixed my reply in the morning, but love is when you respond with a snore and that snore means "I love *you* too!" to the asker.
And thus day 1-and-into-2 of our roadtrip ends.
Published on July 7th, 2011 @ 05:16:00 pm , using 721 words, 588 views
When we last left our story, we were headed to see Parsifal, who resides outside of
The Bob is a 77,000 sq ft building that houses a bunch of stuff. Here's the list from their website:
Judsons Steakhouse, Gills Blue Crab Lounge, Monkey Bar Resto Lounge, Eve Lounge
Crush Nightclub, Bobarinos, Dr. Grins Comedy Club, B.O.B.'s Brewery <-- they brew too!
Gilmore Collection Catering.
There's not many clubs that have a downloadable directory so you can find what floor your thing is on.
So, we head out post-2300 to The Bob. It may have been later than that.
We get to the door, please let them have food. We get carded and tagged like baby cockatiels.
"Are any kitchens open"?
Crud. That's not what I said though.
I'm nothing if not stubborn and determined, so in we went! We went up a floor to a quieter section of the hubbub and I got one of Bob's own beers.
The tap was labelled Rye. But I don't see that listed on their website.
At this point, I'm not taking notes. I hear thump-thump-thump coming from Crush on the first level and I'm swaying to the euro-Trance/House remixes. It's a beer, we're sitting on a faux leather club chair in an empty part of the complex and Life Is Good. If I had a cigarette and if Grand Rapids allowed smoking indoors, I would have been quite happy. Jon, nice couch, beer and cigarette. Life is Good.
In time, the restroom calls and I ask the worker that's in there who has food in the area. Sometimes there's a hot dog vendor out on the corner (she points out the window). Cool, we'll look for them. I'll ditch the bun and eat the dog, no problem!
I come out and Jon has gotten asked about his shoes. Again. Whether it was honest interest or a clever opener (I suspect the last from his description of it ;) ), travelers that like to chat would be well-advised to wear Vibram Five Finger shoes.
We walk around more - it's a very cool club concept! I know Jon's not Of The Dancing Tribe, so we're not going to go to Crush, which is OK at this time. Plus, we see the people coming out of there. Most of them are heavily intoxicated, more so than I am at this point, and they're swaying on high heels, clutching onto each other and handrails trying to hobble up the steps to the restroom.
Dancing there, at this time, on this day may not be fun.
Anyone who has met me face to face knows I don't blend. In The Bob, I *really* don't blend. Everyone has blonde or black hair. Everyone has very straight hair with chunky highlights. Everyone is wearing heels. Everyone has very tight things on. Everyone probably has their highlight person high up on their cell phone list.
I have teal hair, a Woot shirt with a rabbit eating another rabbit and a gaggle of bunnies looking at him in horror, a teal dotted skirt on and my Vibrams. And my huge Timbuk2 messenger slung on my back like some odd punk-meets-50's-housewife combination that was beamed in the middle of the club.
No one's right or wrong here, and I'm pretty accepting of different looks - it sort of goes With The Thing. But I'm starting to feel like a stranger in a strange land, and I hadn't had enough beer for that.
I like it there though. A few ladies seemed to be not having the best time due to a lot of drinking, but mostly everyone's smashed and happy. A nice combination. Any other night or earlier on that night, the stars may have aligned for a more tribal-feeling experience.
I decide I must have some sort of fruity drink. Don't ask me why, every once in awhile I have to indulge my inner woman with a fruity frozen whats-it. It was tasty, they do know how to make their drinks.
We're leaving, and I ask - hey, what's a food place that *is opening and actually serving food* time of night. Then I have to appendix "That isn't a chain" since we don't want to experience chains when we travel.
A destination is given to us, and we head off into the late late night. Jon pretty sober, me not as much.
Published on July 7th, 2011 @ 06:58:00 am , using 706 words, 255 views
Moving on from Founders Brewing Co, we had some big decisions to make.
Namely, move on to *where*?
Cool for Cats
We decided on Hopcat - they have a huge craft beer list, both taps and bottles. Plus we'd been salivating a *lot* over their 'Crack Fries'. OK, so maybe they're glammy named French Fries, but we still wanted to try them.
We headed on over, nicely there was a close parking garage.
Parking? Yes. See, our hotel was around 7 miles away from downtown and though we *could* walk that, it may be a little much if we'd had a little too much. So, we initially thought we'd take a cab. Until we found out 1 way from the hotel would be $21.00.
That's $42.00 round trip.
Jon took one for the team, again =), and paced himself so that we could save $42.00.
So, yes. Parking.
Headed two blocks from the parking structure to Hopcat.
Imagine a moderate tempo ragtime song. Here's a aural reminder of what that may sound like:
Hopcat is very nicely appointed. Wood everywhere, low table/chair seating, a nice bar and a bar rail for when things get peppy and drinking and standing is the order of the day (and, honestly I think that's my preference as bar chairs are never that comfy)
As you face the bar, you see their fermentation tanks through a window to the left. I always think the brewers must feel like fish. Behind glass, going around and around. I wonder if they get spooked when you tap on the glass?
Straight ahead of you at the bar are their many many taps.
The bar was busy, a lot of the tables were full. We took a seat near the window.
Their draft list was impressive and featured a lot of Michigan breweries, highlighted in green on their menu. They made it really easy to pick them out.
Hopcat is known for their interesting beers that they brew on premises, that have some interesting names.
I asked about Sage Against the Machine and the kind waiter brought me a sample of it. Quite good, but wasn't what I was looking for at that time. I tried some of their Gingervitis, and though good, I found it too sweet for my current taste.
So, I settled on a beer - Jon settled on a beer.
Then we ordered their infamous "crack fries".
"Oh, the kitchen is closed - I can bring you "crack bread" though..."
I bake. I think I'm pretty good at it, and I strive to get better.
But I don't feel well when I eat wheat consistently. Plus it makes me picky as hell about baked goods.
I also keep added fats to a dull roar. These facts make it *very difficult* to go to breweries and brewpubs as their starters and 'soak up the alcohol' foods are generally wheaty and fatty. I'll indulge sometimes, and I did on this journey, on the fats, but wheats I try to stay really minimal on.
Not only am I a beer snob and a coffee snob - I'm a baked goods snob as well. At least I admit it.
We turn down the "Crack bread" and he apologizes many times. It's fine, if I need a little bit of something, I have rice crackers stashed away in my Timbuk2 bag.
At this point things are getting a little hazy.
My battle plan for Grand Rapids was to get in and hit as much as I could physically handle hitting that night. Sometimes you have to take really big bites of life.
I'm not quite feeling done yet, but it's intermittantly pouring out. Jon and I are watching the Ken and Barbies run by with handbags, etc over their heads to shield their siliconed strands from the rain. I'm giggling a little bit - because people trying to escape something falling from above that's basically inescapable always looks a little funny.
At this point my friends, it's after 11pm.. by how much, I couldn't tell you. If I'm on my phone, it's generally to talk to friends with Facebook or check Email (or a map... or Priceline for a hotel deal...). I never checked the time.
We had decided.
It was time to visit Parsifal
Published on July 6th, 2011 @ 07:54:00 am , using 489 words, 232 views
And the journey continues.
Having experienced Dark Horse Brewing Co, but having wanderlust in our veins we moved on to Grand Rapids.
Onstreet parking wasn't a problem in this industrial-going-to-commercial district, but the rain was. It was threatening rain, which became our theme during this roadtrip. We parked and speed-walked to Founders
We arrived at Founders Brewing Company and found it completely full. Well not completely full. There was room for at least 2 more.
The building is flat, and purely industrial. Which is, to my eyes, beautiful. It wasn't cold industrial, rather it was warm and welcoming. Patrons crowded the outer railed patio outside, happily drinking and talking - and a band played inside.
I don't know the name of the band, but they sounded something like the New Heathens (so you could now go listen to, say, Proud Highway from their album Hello Disaster to get the mood of the thing). We'd lucked out and happened in there on Music Thursdays, and this was a 4 band lineup. Band #2 was American Rock Music With A Little Twang But Not Too Much.
You know, one thing that trips me up when entering a new place is how things are done. We entered directly in front of two holes that go to the kitchen, and the bar. I'm blurry from the road, vaguely blurry from Dark Horse and had this feeling of this-is-not-what-I-expected. Which is good.
We sort out and head to the bar. The kind bartender is happy to give us samples and talk to us about the beer, but we have a crush of people behind us. I obtain the Cashew Mountain Brown and Jon has the Oatmeal Stout.
Oh and the nosh. We had nosh:
That, friends, is a basket full of cheesy meaty chippy olive tapanadey goodness (aka the Antipasto platter but my name is more descriptive). We engaged in toothpick shiv wars over the meat and cheese and hung out, drank and dug the band.
By the way - people are fascinated by Vibram fivefingers shoes. In the din a yoga instructor was trying to get my attention and we started conversing about my shoes.
I wasn't driving, so my second choice of beer was the Cerise, which Jon and I split (sort of). Somehow it goes that I'm the woman and not driving, so I get more beer. He's the guy and driving, so he gets less beer and more food. Well, I try to at least be entertaining when tipsy.
We brought some Cerise home with us, but only because we got it later on at a party store. The place was kind of crowded to bring more with us, I would have liked to have picked up the Cashew Mountain Brown because it was kind of eye-rolls-in-the-back-of-ones-head good.
The nosh was finished, and the beer was good, so we bid farewell to Founders (home of good music and great beers) and headed onwards.
Published on July 5th, 2011 @ 08:15:00 am , using 169 words, 619 views
On our way to Dark Horse Brewing Co we got pulled over by a friendly Michigan patrolman.
When we placed our People's Brewing Company, Figure 8 Brewing and The Tattooed Heart bumperstickers on our car (along with the Subgenius license plate frame, though no one usually catches that) I said "We're going to be profiled".
I can't prove that we *were*, maybe we were just the slowest of the fast moving pack. Maybe the bumper stickers gave the promise of an interesting pullover? Maybe he thought we had already had a few?
If we were profiled, I don't think the officer expected a polite-tattooed-crocheting-sober woman and a well-spoken-very-normal-looking-sober man when he got to the passenger window.
License, registration, and a ticket for 5 over.
He was curious about our destination. "Dark Horse Brewing Co"! We got the tip that it was X amount of miles ahead and we should proceed safely to our destination ... and suddenly I felt a little like Hunter S Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas...
Published on July 4th, 2011 @ 05:46:00 pm , using 275 words, 235 views
The first day preparing for the roadtrip started out pretty hectic; Jon had packed his stuff and I had to finish up work and pack my stuff.
Finally got everything packed and I had a wicked craving for soup. This summer, I've just craved good soups like crazy. So I went to Bistro 501 to get soup and a small salad
Put on roadhouse blues by The Doors.
I'll make it easier:
Instead of people brawling and shivving each other over women imagine instead that they're laughing til they're red in the face, calling each other 'yousonofabitch' and grinning, lots of men and women hugging and slapping each other on the back (or sometimes somewhere else). 80% of the people are clutching rough but beautiful hand thrown clay mugs.
Welcome to Dark Horse Brewery. Located in Marshall, MI.
Look at the ceiling. And the walls. Maybe the floor, if word keeps spreading. Those are the mug club mugs. They are *everywhere!*
We chose our flight beers and off we went!
I have blathered in as much detail as I can about the ROD, Crooked Tree IPA, Black Bier Ale and the Raspberry ICE on Beeradvocate.
My mini summaries: ROD: good, I'd drink it again with an interesting cheese. Crooked Tree IPA: I'm not a hophead but I liked it. Black Bier Ale: Sharp acrid and bitter with no reason, not a fan. Raspberry ICE: Please someone give me a swimming pool full of this.
We split a nacho and hit the road. We'll be back here!
Published on June 27th, 2011 @ 06:54:00 am , using 29 words, 721 views
Lizz will write the travelog for this roadtrip, but I just wanted to say: having a week off and traveling around randomly during it, is a LOT of fun. :)
The earliest email I can find referencing it is from November 2010 - so it seems its been about 8 months that we've been involved with the "Chicken Cabal," and now our first batch of chickens is done.
We did a "trial run" of 20 birds on Tuesday the 7th, and another batch was done Friday the 10th, and the main batch was Saturday the 11th. We were at the Tuesday run and the Saturday one.
The Tuesday run, being a "trial run," went a little slower, but it was very educational. I learned I really shouldn't be doing the evisceration job. It's a pain, and requires some fine motor skills I just don't really have. Lizz did kick-ass at it, so much so, she got to do it for the "full run" on Sat, and she enjoyed it. For Saturday's run, I was put on "final finish" - bagging, weighing, and putting them on ice. This required me plunging my hands and most of my arms into a barrel of ice most of the time. Fun! :D Seriously though, after 20-30 minutes, I was mostly numb and it wasn't bad. The core workout from bending and straightening for 3 hours was good though!
Anyway - we got the run done in basically 3 hours (for close to 100 birds). Assembly line style - one "team" doing the capturing, killing, scalding, and plucking, then another doing the evisceration and final finish stuff. We had a very cool (and efficient!) system; very cool to see in action.
I think, maybe, the coolest part of all this was meeting some very, very cool people, and learning things about them that I would never have guessed. She has a tattoo, and wants more? Whoa. :D
I'm trying hard to convey how cool and interesting and educational this was, but I think really the only way this works is "preaching to the choir" - and you either already get this, or you think it's completely insane that people would process their own meat in "this day and age."
Hopefully you're one that thinks it's cool and worthwhile - and hopefully next batch will go even more smoothly!
Published on May 31st, 2011 @ 08:00:00 am , using 1801 words, 859 views
I took Friday off, making Memorial Day weekend into a 4 day weekend, and we set out with a vague plan to end up at a few different places. Maybe. Unless we changed our mind. :D This time, we decided to avoid interstates/freeways, and instead take only state roads. Turns out that in addition to being more interesting and scenic, they're also (usually) a shorter and faster way to get places.
So we left Thursday afternoon around, hell, I don't remember - 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon, directly after leaving my office. Our first destination was 3 Floyds.
Now, of course, we'd been there before, but had to go again. Hell, we've even entertained plans of going up-n-back to FFF on a weeknight. Many people say FFF's a little like a cult - and if so, well, we've drank the kool-aid. Lots of it. Had a great time there, then checked into the hotel, and realized we probably needed some more food. After realizing that not much was open, we headed to Crown Brewing, as they have a pizza place connected. Had a very yummy pizza, and enjoyed talking with the server girls. ;)
We knew Beer Geeks Pub was nearby, so we plotted to end the night there. We'd heard good things about it - they have murals on the walls of "geek icons" enjoying beers - Yoda, Spock, Einstein, etc. And lots of craft beer on tap and in bottles. Figured it'd be our kind of place. Well, the murals were cool, and the beer was certainly good, but... They had a bunch-o-TVs with a basketball game on, and most of the patrons were way more into that than beer or anything "geeky." I can't even remember what beer I had, though I remember she had 2 pints, and then Viking Blod mead which was insanely good. Anyway. Probably not ever going back there!
So we slept the sleep of the dead, and awoke Friday morning ready for further adventure. We were in Hammond, which is insanely close to Chicago, and in Chicago dwells Intelligentsia Coffee. If there's one thing we like nearly as much as craft beer, it's quality coffee, and Intelli is probably the best. So, first order of business for Friday was to head into Chicago for some coffee.
Now, most people say you should never drive into Chicago, and instead take a train. We now know why. Anyway, we drove in, paid the tolls, found Intelli, paid for parking, and then had some coffee. Most. expensive. coffee. EVAR. Not the coffee itself, but the aforementioned tolls and parking. Totally worth it! Would do it again, except we won't, as we'll take public transit in, instead.
The rest of the day's plans included Shoreline Brewery, Figure 8 Brewing, and Back Road Brewery. Shoreline opens at 11, and they are a restaurant as well, so we planned to eat there and then go to the other 2 places. They're not overly far apart. But, we had some time to kill, so we spent a little time at Blue Chip Casino in Hammond. Was fun.
Shoreline was fairly good. Not a place we'd make a "destination" but it was good enough and we don't regret having gone. We found out that Back Road doesn't open until 4 and is only open until 6, so we figure "another time," and heading to F8 - as they open at 3 and we'd arrive pretty much right around then.
Figure 8 was awesome. The brewer/owner used to be a programmer for pinball machines. Very cool! He also makes kick-ass beer. We enjoyed a chat with him, and asked where was nearly that had good food and was not a chain. He recommended 3 different places, so we set off to see which one we'd end up near first.
That turned out to be Pikk's Tavern, a very (very!) nice tavern and semi-high-end steakhouse. We tried their frites and scotch eggs which were insanely good. We briefly thought of eating our full meal there, but figured since we would be traveling on state roads, we'd end up happening by some cool looking mom-n-pop diner/restaurant along the way to our next destination, so we skipped eating at Pikk's - a decision we'd soon regret. :D
Before leaving Valpo, we got some snacks at South Bend Chocolate.
Our next destination was Muncie - where lies the infamous Heorot Tavern, home of the most craft beer taps in Indiana (and supposedly insanely cool to boot). Turns out there was nothing, zip, zilch, along the road from Valpo to Muncie. Not a damned thing. Except some road obstruction that caused such a loud sound that it scared the shit out of both of us. No damage to the car, though.
We arrived in Muncie fairly late, checked into the hotel, and then set out to find food. Well, it was after 8 and a lot of places were closing. We ended up... gah... at Applebee's. We needed protein; most of our food up to this point was low on the protein and we're used to getting a lot. Anyway. It sucked, but it was protein. Heh.
Saturday dawned, and we needed coffee. On a previous trip to Muncie, we remembered there was Blue Bottle Coffee downtown (right near Heorot too!) So we headed there. Got some coffee, asked the vegan barista who their roaster was... and she didn't know. Scary stuff. The coffee was not horrible though.
Heorot doesn't open until 11, so we had time to kill. The aforementioned vegan/barista mentioned that Muncie has a fairly good farmer's market, that would be a good walk from downtown. We're used to getting a lot more movement than we'd got up to this point, so that sounded good. It was a nice 1.5 - 2 mile walk along the river to the farmer's market; very pretty, enjoyable walk together.
The farmer's market was indeed a very good one! We still had a little time to kill before Herorot opened. She's a baker, and we kept noticing there was a local (non chain) sounding bakery nearby. We headed there and were shocked to learn that while it is indeed a local bakery, their baked goods were lesser quality than what you'd get at a grocery store. Very disappointing.
Luckily, Heorot [sadly, they do not have a website - I suppose they don't need one] was now open, and we were saved. Legends tell of this place, with it's dark wood (and very little lighting) and nordic/viking/hunter theme, and an proprietor with his wolves, and so forth. No wolves on this day, but the legends are true. Heorot rules. I won't bother to further describe the place; it would just fall short of conveying how awesome it is. The beer menu is so voluminous, it's organized by style. I had an amazing doppelbock, and she had, I can't recall how many pints - I just remember it was enough that she kept claiming she was going to pass out on the road to the next destination. :D
The next destination was Hoosier Park Casino in Anderson. She did not, in fact, pass out, but we were both worried she might be "too drunk" for the Casino. Turns out she wasn't, and it was a lot of fun. I won $120, actually - nearly enough to pay for our next planned dinner. The trip was winding down; we wanted a little time near home, too, so our plan was to head into Indy and have dinner at Fogo de Chao. Yes, I know it's a chain, but, it is a higher end chain, and supposedly very good. And there would be tons of meat, something we sorely needed by this point.
We were not disappointed! Thoroughly enjoyed it. We then headed home, unpacked, I experienced a total brain crash (sadly somewhat typical for me post-trip), and then we slept.
Woke up Sunday morning, had an even worse brain situation, and then we decided we would keep our Sunday (sort of) tradition of goign to LBC and then People's Brewing Company. People's has a Black IPA out now, and we hadn't tried it yet. We both had kick-ass double bison burgers at LBC (meat!) and tried their new Golden Lady IPA. Good stuff! Then headed to People's for the BIPA. A very, very good brew. :) We were chatting with Danyel (A FELLOW CARNIVORE!) and mentioned we miiiight head to Beef House in Covington that evening, and she said if we did we had to (1) try the frog legs and (2) have a roll for her.
We didn't end up at Beef House. Instead, we went to Williamsport Falls, and then noticed we were super close to the Illinois border. They sell booze on Sundays in IL! (Illegal in IN.) So we ended up in Racistville, IL. Er, Danville. But yeah, racist. Anyway. They don't have much craft beer in Danville! We did get a 6 pack each of brews from Founders and Smuttynose and got the EFF out of Danville.
Sunday ends, Monday begins. A 10 mile bike ride; feels wonderful to get back to a more normal amount of exercise for us. We quickly formulated a plan to go hiking at Turkey Run and THEN make it to Beef House for dinner. We hadn't been to Turkey Run before, and it was a lot of fun! Very (for us) rugged-ish trails. We hiked for about an hour, then set out for Beef House.
We hadn't eaten yet - so BH was a very welcome sight. The place is regionally famous. It's a 1960's steakhouse, pure and simple. At Danyel's recommendation we did indeed have the froglegs and they were awesome. Our mains were T-bones. Perfect. :)
We ended the day (and the 4-day weekend) comfortably at home, with some very welcome closeness and an episode of Reaper. (And a taste of the Founders Wee Heavy we bought in Racistville.)
Not road trip related, but we taste tested the first bottle of FBoS on Sunday as well. Good stuff! Has some very interesting notes to it; can't wait to see what others makes of it.
Also not road trip related - our new bikes (a pair of 2011 Kona Sutras) should be in this week. They're steel framed, instead of aluminum, which will be very nice for the rough roads. They also have better gearing for hills and the like. They're full blown touring bikes. Rivendell Bicycles got me thinking we needed different bikes to really enjoy the kind of riding we're doing, and want to do. Rivendell bikes are very, very high end, and we couldn't justify the cost, in the end, so we went with the Konas. We are planning to patronize Rivendell for some accessories and clothing, though, as we both feel we owe them something for helping us see bikes in a new light.
Anyway! Stay tuned for another chaotic road trip in mid/late June, when I have a full week off. :D
Published on May 10th, 2011 @ 07:27:00 am , using 602 words, 1033 views
That's "Fucking Ball ov Sunshine," a secret project Lizz came up with and that we brewed some time ago, photographed as we were testing a sample to see what the specific gravity was at. We know it'll be ready for bottling soon, so we wanted to see if it was time. S.G. was at 1.011 - close, but we'd rather see 1.008 or so. Flavor was pretty much everything we'd hoped for - save maybe one characteristic that didn't come through quite as much. If you're wondering what it is - too bad! There are several secret ingredients, so until it's bottled and several people have tasted it, we're not telling. It's not a hefe or a wit, though.
In other brewing news, we'll be moving to all-grain brewing very soon. For those that don't brew, "all grain" refers to brewing with cracked grains, instead of pre-prepared malt and grain extracts. Most homebrewers start out using extracts - and there's nothing wrong with extract brewed beer. Plenty of people have even won competitions with extract beers. We're lucky that our local homebrew shop does enough business that their extract selection is generally very fresh, and we also have been cooks for a long time, so any scorching of the extract that some newbie brewers end up doing is avoided. So our beers have been (in our opinion) pretty good, especially given how new we are.
So, after probably way too much research, we have a plan formulated to build our mash tun. This is an insulated container that you steep ("mash") the grains in at certain temperatures, in order to convert the starch into fermentable sugars. Then, of course, you have to have a way to get out only the sugary solution ("wort") and not any grain bits. We'll be basing ours off a very standard, well-accepted design, basically following this blog post - http://rivercrewbrewingcompany.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/building-my-10-gallon-mash-tun-cooler/. Cost will be maybe $60 or so; not bad, and well worth it for the control it'll give us.
The next gadget we'll be constructing is referred to as a "heat stick." This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a stick that generates (a ton of) heat. The main component is a water heater heating coil - up to a 2,000 watt coil. We might have to step down to a 1,500 watt one; not sure what our electrical system will handle. Two of these suckers will take a full 5 gallons of water from out of the tap temp to rolling boil in about 37 minutes. It's cheaper than propane, faster, and doesn't require brewing outdoors. Cost is pretty low - about $30 to $40 per heat stick.
We have our next two beers planned - one is an experiment of mine (another secret!) and the other will be a Slovenian Blonde with blackberry added in secondary fermentation. This was her creation, and it should be a fantastic fruit beer. Both of these are extract-based; we already have the ingredients. Then, it'll be on to all-grain. The first all-grain project (IMO) needs to be something that really emphasizes malt characteristics, since that's what the process gives you the fine control over. I'm thinking an 80 shilling Scottish. Who knows.
We'll also be visiting a bunch more of our state's craft breweries over Memorial Day weekend. I've got the Friday before off as well, so we'll have 4 days to wander Indiana and tour craft breweries, tobacco shops, and whatever else we find. Expect a long post about that... if either of us can recall what happened. ;)
Published on May 5th, 2011 @ 08:01:00 am , using 220 words, 594956 views
If you've read my post entitled "Why 'Sentence ov Desire'" (<---link), you'll know this domain was originally the home of a digital magazine covering various LHP/Chaos Magick topics. Now out of my hardcore Atheist phase, I've decided to rebuild the original site from online archives.
Sadly, the Wayback Machine is not spiderable by any known spider software I can find - which means I'll likely have to rebuild the site manually. There are not thousands of pages, probably not even hundreds, but it'll still be tedious and take some time. If you happen to know of a way to spider Wayback Machine content, let me know.
For now, if you're curious, here's a link to the best version of the content I can find @ Wayback Machine:
It will load with a redirect page; just wait for the redirect to complete and you shall be rewarded. It's mostly complete. The final issue of SoD never got archived, at least not by the Wayback Machine, so that issue is likely lost to the ages. Sadly. It was a good issue indeed.
The root URL of this site will still point to my blog as it does now; the rebuild will be in a subdirectory.
This may leave you wondering if we are going to produce further issues of SoD. Time will tell.
As I begin penning (so to speak) this entry, it's around 8 o'clock on a rainy Monday morning, the memories still ultra-fresh of this trip that I simply must chronicle. It would be all too easy to chalk this up to "you had to be there" or "you wouldn't understand," and indeed I could just put up a bullet-point list of the places we went and say "Doesn't that sound awesome!?!?" But this was a road trip, and so I must try to help you understand, even try to make you feel as if, maybe, you were there in spirit. Not an easy task, and my writing is beyond rusty. But try I shall...
Financial pursuits and pet ownership have kept us close to home for the better part of 15 years. Indeed, neither of us could think of a time in the last 10-12 years where we'd been away from home for longer than several (6, 8, 10) hours. I know, I know - not necessarily healthy. Vacations are important; vacations are healthy. But... the business. But... the animals. The stresses of the last several years demanded a sacrifice, and that sacrifice was deemed to be a weekend where no work should be performed and we must be away from home.
As we are Creators ov Beer, we determined a good travel plan would be to visit other Creators ov Beer, as there are many of these within easy driving distance. We were to follow a simple program:
"Go somewhere, then figure out where to go next... Repeat until it is time to return to homebase."
Friday, approx. 2pm. The canines at a boarder, and the felines seen to with copious amounts of food, we loaded essentials into our conveyance and set sail. After a short errand at the Haus ov Money, we were on the road, she reading aloud from "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," a Work which would set the tone for our adventures. After a short stop in Lebanon for biological functions and chocolate we arrived at the Meadery as expected.
The Proprietoress, Tia, greeted us, and offered us the chance to sample 8 of their creations, which we eagerly accepted. All 8 of the meads and ciders we tasted were fantastic. These people do not follow the current trend of making everything sickly-sweet; most of their creations are near-bone-dry, and even what they label "semi-sweet" is dry in comparison to most offerings available now. We savored our sample flight, purchased a bottle of Dry Mead and a bottle of Dry Cider, as well as a bag of exceptional toffee made by some other local business, and set sail once again.
The next destination, as mentioned above, was Sun King Brewing. They're a very popular craft brewery, so we simply had to visit. A very weird experience, it was. Arriving, we noticed a stuffed parking lot, and thought "must be overflow parking from somewhere else, no way can a craft brewery have this many patrons!" Wrong. Sun King was utterly slammed, though oddly the staff told us it was "slow." A very large scale operation, this, with a ticket system for sampling beers, and longish lines and all. We didn't find any of their beers to be standout. Osiris IPA was pretty good, as was Bitter Druid ESB, but the rest left us ... flat.
Speaking of flat, upon leaving, we mentioned to a staffer our plan of a random craft brew road trip, and he informed us a new one had opened recently, nearby, Flat12. Next leg of trip: easy!
A short drive put us there, and what a visit it was! They brew a milk stout; a favorite style of mine, and theirs is very good. She (and I, too) enjoyed their Joe Brahma, as well.
Broad Ripple seemingly magickally appeared in front of us, and we parked the conveyance in a paid lot and began a nice leisurely walk. For those that have never been there, Broad Ripple is an area of Indianapolis that is basically a few streets worth of (mostly) privately owned and very interesting shops, of all kinds. We took our time getting to Barley Island from the lot. A very pretty skirt decided it needed to come home with her, and also several tobacco products and accessories deemed we were their new home.
Barley Island is another somewhat large scale craft brewer, with a restaurant on premises. We'd read their menu before, and were intrigued by the cake with hop syrup and barley frosting. But, first the beers! We sampled a few of them; none were particularly "awesome," but not bad. We ordered up a piece of the cake to share, and while it was good, just as a cake, none of the brewing ingredients shone forth in the flavor. Oh well.
So then we sauntered back to near the parking lot, and as it was well past 5, perhaps even 6, it was time to obtain sustenance. Not an easy decision. Do we head West to Beef House? North to TPC or somewhere else in Zionsville? Far north to Three Floyds? Decisions! None of the places we'd vaguely talked about maybe-hitting were West, so Beef House was out.
And so, accompanied by more reading from the Book of Thompson, we headed into Zionsville to "figure it out when we got there."
So it was about 8, maybe 9 when we rolled into, of all places, Lafayette. Zionsville didn't work out. Too many narcotics agents. We went to our old haunt, LBC. They'd just put out a new brew, made with Agave, that we had to try. Very damned good. Fed and happy, we rolled out of Lafayette and forged Northwards.
It was too dark by now for any reading to occur, so our trip North was accompanied by Good Music. Elton John, Bob Seger, and Siouxsie, among others. Our destination was Three Floyds, but that was for Saturday.
It was midnight, Munster time, when we slinked through town, looking for a roost for the night, which the Hampton Inn gladly provided. After some wonderful Bonding Time(tm), we fell into a fitful sleep on a lousy (WAY TOO SOFT) bed, and awoke the next morning, ready for adventure!
Three Floyds does not open until Noon, and we were awake at 7 or so. So, it was decided that we would partake of the hotel's breakfast and then visit the John Dillinger Museum which is very nearby. The breakfast was very good, and after receiving (and not accepting) a very interesting offer in the breakfast lobby, we went back to our room and prepared to check out before the next leg.
We arrived at the Dillinger Museum right around open, but after seeing many billboards for nearby Palaces ov Sin, we aborted the Museum idea and set forth for one of these Sin Palaces. Rounding the bend to our Palace of choice, there appeared before us a beautiful sight: LAKE MICHIGAN! We knew we were close to the lake, but not that we were basically THERE! The way the highway is constructed, you can't see it until you round this bend on the exit down to the Sin Palace.
It had been about 20 years since I'd been to one of these Palaces of Sin, and that in the City of Sin, and she'd never been... So this would be a treat. We arrived, parked, and entered Ameristar. Wow, casinos have changed. After a relatively short, but fun, visit, we left the glassy-eyed thralls of the slots behind: it was time to head to Three Floyds.
Three Floyds is somewhat of a legend. With brews such as "Dark Lord," and "Zombie Dust," and an event day once a year called "Dark Lord Day," which brings 10,000 people from all around, we knew it would be Our Place. And, oh, it is.
Our server resembled a character from long-since-canceled favorite show of ours. He was inked probably from head to toe, and had many piercings as well. Very friendly, very cool. Seated us. Asked what we wanted, and we asked for a beer recommendation, to which he said we had to have Zombie Dust. He wasn't wrong. As we enjoyed the brew, and worked on deciding what to have to eat, we looked around at the decor. Art, mostly of a darker sort, all around. Tap handles lining the ceiling rail. Bad 70s cycle-sploitation flick projected onto one of the walls. Kick ass.
Ultimately, we had a scotch egg (amazingly good here), an order of fries (served and cut/prepared in the style of frites and very good), and a very good pizza. She also consumed a pint of Topless Wytch and a bottle of Wandering Aengus cider. Oh yes, the next leg should be interesting! :D
We left Three Floyds (sadly!) and headed to Crown Brewing, in very nearby Crown Point. Interesting place; shares a building with a pizza place - same owners, obviously. We ordered a sampler flight at the bar, and then moved to a table, to avoid the yammering of Cliff Claven. The beers were fairly good. The shocker was "Crown Blue" - a beer with blueberry. Usually, these are overly sweet, but not this one. The blueberry flavor is there, in the back, but not the sweetness. It was very good. She consumed most of the samplers - as the pilot, I had to stay sharp, so as to avoid narcotics officers and man-eating lizards. The next leg would be even more interesting due to this.
The next destination was Kokomo, nearer home. Accompanied for a while with reading from FLLV, and then an eclectic mix of music to include U2, Rush, Queensryche, and Cradle of Filth, we drove the 130 miles or so to Kokomo.
The plan was to visit Half Moon in Kokomo, and sample their beers, and either eat there, or some other random place in Kokomo.
Half Moon's interesting. A totally unique concept in brewpubs, they've decided to emulate the feel, look, and style of a mega-chain eatery such as TGI Friday's or Chilis. Basically "it's just like TGIF/Chilis, except we make our own beer here." And it obviously works for them! The place was packed. Thankfully, they offer a sampler flight of their beers, and we ordered that. None of them were standout, except perhaps "MILF-n-honey" a mild, easy drinking "lawnmower" beer. And we both appreciate any reference to fornication, so the name is win.
The food didn't seem interesting enough so we formulated a plot to comb Kokomo for a good, authentic Mexican place, but gave up easily, and headed back to Lafayette, and went instead to Taj Mahal, an Indian place, for a good (basically) adventure-end meal.
We then grabbed some ice cream, and headed back to homebase to muse over the adventure.
The next day, Sunday, it was mandated that we receive new ink in order to commemorate this adventure. And so, the art you see above was inked onto us by Mitchell at Operation Ink.
And so ends this tale, but fear not, more will come, as the Snow God has been slain, and warm days grace us. 33 hours in length, 9 of that driving the approximately 450 miles we traversed, it was an adventure we will never forget, it being our first of this length and breadth, in about 14 years.
Epilogue: As I prepare to mash the "Publish!" button, I've previewed this chronicle many times, and I find it's not conveying what I wish it to convey, yet better words are not coming to me. And so, I will Publish! this, not overly happy with it in tone and style, but at least it chronicles the adventure more or less accurately. Now to re-check and ensure that all evidence has been disposed of. And deal with the bats.
So it's been a while since I've posted (as usual). Not really a ton going on, at least nothing new and thus "blog-worthy," but I am still playing Rift and don't plan to switch games...in a way I haven't felt since EQ1 was the dominant game.
A lot of "big name" folks have left WoW for Rift, including a long-time friend Exeter/Belghast - and he's a "benchmark" of sorts that I can use to see if a game is really going to take off. He's looked at all the games since WoW came out, but his commitment to WoW has not wavered at all - until now. He's officially left WoW and is playing Rift full-time. FoH and Afterlife are officially Rift guilds too. Rift is different; guilds are moving to it, rather than "playing it while waiting for the next WoW expansion."
Of course, lots of people are saying "Rift will kill WoW," which is hyperbole of course, as "WoW killed EQ1." Yeah, if you consider "released 9 expansions since WoW came out" to be "killed." The only thing that can "kill" an MMO is the company that owns it - by shutting off the servers.
It seems, though, that Blizzard is content to let WoW decline, run on auto-pilot, seemingly, in favor of their "NEXT GEN MMO!!" code-named "Titan" that is in development. They've stated that they moved all their "star" people over to that team "some time ago."
So, it's nice to finally see a game that matches (IMO exceeds) WoW's polish and feature set, at release, get noticed. :) It's also a hell of a lot of fun to play.
We started our third batch of Homebrew on Sunday. This one's a recipe of her design; she named it "Fucking Ball ov Sunshine." The ingredients and style shall be kept secret until such time as it's been sampled. :D We're both pretty damned excited to see how it'll come out though. I'm working on a recipe for the next batch, code named "Black Cow IPA." Muahahaha.
I'll be re-entering R/C flying (yes, again, hush you). I have on the way from California, a Radian Pro full-house sailplane. It'll use pretty much every function of my (JR X9303) transmitter, and most of the programmable mixes too. Should be a lot of fun. For a knock-around "fun" plane, I also have a Parkzone Mosquito coming. It's small (20" wingspan), but it's full 4-channel control, and it's also a twin-motor aircraft. ;) Should be fun. I also own 2 Swift II flying wings that I need to pick up from my friend Chad. If UPS cooperates, I should be able to fly this coming weekend. (Well, UPS and the weather, but the weather's more reliable than UPS, sadly).
So that's about it. I'd love to have a huge, long Rift post to put up, but honestly, a good portion of the MMO blogging world is doing that for me, so I don't feel a need to add a huge "me too" type post. It really is a good game, and if you like MMOs, and aren't anti-fantasy, then you should be playing it. There's really no reason not to - it's missing zero features (other than housing). :) Though, one thing Trion needs to get up and running is an armory-like website, but I'm sure it's in the works.
Short one today. Just wanted to mention that the fine folks @ D&R Market recently gave us a bunch of surplus venison from their processing season. Some loins, stew meat cubes, and a few packages of ground. So yesterday we took a pack of the ground deer, cooked it with a bunch of ground black pepper, a seriously gigantic onion, some crimini mushrooms, and lentils. It was insanely good. That is all! :D
Published on February 25th, 2011 @ 07:44:00 am , using 965 words, 988 views
My wife and I were out shopping yesterday and we were asked by someone we know, who reads this blog, how we ended up in Indiana from California. Now, I swear to "Bob" I'd already written this post, but he said he couldn't find it, and I can't either, so I must have only "planned" it and never written it. So now I will!
Back in the early 1990's, I ran a rather popular BBS, with callers from all over the US and many parts of the world. It was an underground BBS, mostly focusing on topics such as hacking, phreaking, computer viruses, and the like. In early 1993, I added sections on wider topics, including drugs, the occult, and some political topics as well, and I'd started advertising that this information was available.
Turns out, my future wife was interested in the occult and some of the other things, and she found the ad for my system on Usenet, and around early Summer of '93, gave the board a call. Sure, I took note of a female user; I didn't get many, but as she was in Michigan, and I was in California, I didn't give it much further thought. She became a fairly regular user of the board, and we were soon conversing fairly regularly.
I can't really remember when or how it happened, but it wasn't long before our conversations became longer and more intimate, and we were essentially in a long distance relationship. It all happened very naturally. We made plans that I'd come to Michigan for a vacation the next Spring or Summer (1994) and we'd see how things worked out in person.
Well, things continued to get more and more serious, and we were spending 3, 4, sometimes 6 or more hours a day, talking on the phone. Back then there was no "unlimited long distance" or even cheap LD for that matter; I seem to remember that 30 cents a minute was a good rate back then! So, we were very into each other, obviously.
December 1993 rolled around, and one evening on the phone, she asked me if I was sitting down. Now, you can imagine, I got really nervous at this point, and I figured she was about to tell me that the long distance relationship was just too much and she wanted to call it off. Instead she asked me to marry her, and obviously, I accepted.
So, the plan was I'd move to Michigan, she'd have an apartment for us, and I'd find a job and we'd start our life together. It'd be several months before I could afford to do the move ordinarily, but thankfully my mom put up some money and I was able to fast-track it, and the date was set: January 14, 1994 - only 2-3 weeks to wait. Of course, it seemed a lot longer. ;)
I was fairly nervous doing this, of course. I'd only ever lived in California. We "knew" each other amazingly well, having spent probably hundreds of hours talking about everything under the sun. Though, of course, this was way before digital cameras, so we didn't do the "exchange pics" thing that LD relationship people can do today. All we had were descriptions and the knowledge that we knew each other better than most anyone else in our lives. But, physical chemistry is important too, so I was nervous. A lot of my acquaintances told me I was insane, and that I'd be back in a week. But I just had a feeling I'd never be back...
So 1/14/1994 came around and I hopped on a plane with what I hadn't already shipped to her, and happily left my California life behind. I arrived at DTW, saw her, and as they say in movies... that was it. ;) There was no doubt, on the part of either of us, that this was right.
We had some tough times right away. It took me a little longer than I'd hoped to find a job. It wasn't until 3/8/1994 that I found the job I still have to this day. The company wasn't doing too well back then either, so many times "payday" consisted of "how much do you need in order to eat tonight?" and similar. But I knew the company had potential, so I stuck with it.
September rolled around, and we finally decided to officially get married, and so we did at the courthouse in Walled Lake, MI. Her dad attended, and it was very wonderful.
During the Summer of 1995, the owner of the company told me that his mother lived in Monticello, IN, and was aging and he was thinking of moving the company there so that he and his brother (the other programmer in the company) could take care of her. So, he paid for a mini-vacation for us to go see the town and see if we wanted to live there, as he wanted me to move with the company. We enjoyed it and agreed that when the company moved we'd go with.
So, from October of 1995 through May 2003, we lived in an apartment in Monticello, IN, population around 5,000. A small town, but it was nice living there. Our apartment was on the Tippecanoe River and had a great view.
Eventually though, the company's owner had a house built for himself in Lafayette, about 30 miles away from Monticello, and soon after, moved the office to Lafayette. For 2 years I commuted - not bad in the warm months, but, frankly, HELL, in the winter. So in 2003 we finally bought a house and moved to Lafayette and have lived here ever since.
I've left out some things, but that at least covers the story of "how I ended up in Indiana" - not to mention the story of "how did you meet?" We're one of the first online relationship success stories. :)
Haven't posted in a while - just not a lot going on to really write about. I'm playing EVE super-duper casually, participating in the Rift beta events as they happen (and as I get time), and have also activated one of my WoW accounts. A friend and I rolled new characters on a PvP server and are going to just super-ultra-casually play. Should be fun.
As far as non-gaming stuff, not a lot to report there either. We're both doing a bunch of health/fitness experiments and realizing very vividly how important brain chemistry is. :D
Published on January 11th, 2011 @ 07:12:00 am , using 286 words, 1770 views
It was mid-evening, and we'd finished up our shopping errands and finished dealing with UPS Documentation Fail™ and we were deciding what do to with the balance of the evening. Lizz said, "Let's bottle?!?" and I said, "Sure!"
Delores Herbig, started on 12/18/2010 got bottled last night. Since it was our second bottling day, we kind of had a system going and it only took a little over an hour-ish. Not bad really.
Fermentation went a little long, but it was still fermenting anyway, so... ;) SG was somewhere around 1.010 - 1.012-ish. Tasted it at bottling, and there's an "odd" flavor there in the background that I can't really describe or identify. It's not unpleasant at all - more of an "I didn't expect that" type of thing vs. an "OMG, I did something wrong!" thing. It may be a character of the yeast I used. Obviously, after 10-14 days in the bottle, it'll be nice and carbonated, and we'll chill it before the "real" tasting, so it should taste completely different than at bottling, where it's flat and room-temp.
All in all, pretty happy with the brew. Our next project will be a Specialty Ale category beer that Lizz dreamed up last night. We're both pretty excited about it, and we'll probably be getting the ingredients down at GF this weekend. We'll also be brewing another batch of the Black IPA that was the first beer we did - it's that good, and it needs to be tweaked a little bit. Batch #2 of that stuff should be even better than #1, with better technique and care during the process.
Anyway, short entry today; just wanted to report back on brewing activities for those readers that primarily read the blog for brewing stories. :)
Published on January 10th, 2011 @ 08:20:00 am , using 637 words, 575 views
Over the weekend, I got quite a bit of time (for me anyway!) to check out the RIFT beta, and I'm still very impressed. The level of polish and detail is amazing, especially for a closed beta. Obviously they've had this thing in intensive internal testing for a very, very long time.
The game is being covered fairly heavily by the entire blogging and gaming press world, so I won't spend much/any time on general game stuff; instead I'll talk about my experiences as a Necro, and also as an EQ1 vet looking for some of the good parts of EQ1 in a new game.
Most of the somewhat unique playstyles of EQ1 are represented in RIFT, either in a single Soul (class) or by an easy-to-figure-out combination of 2 Souls (classes). Want a melee class that can somewhat tank, and has a pet to help out (EQ1 Beastlord)? Well, that's a Beastmaster in RIFT. A nuking class with pets for each element (EQ1 Magician)? Elementalist in RIFT. Enchanter (crowd control) in EQ1? Dominator. There's even a ranged DPS class with a pet (somewhat like a WoW hunter). It's all there!
What I wanted was an EQ1 Necromancer. A caster with a strong undead pet to hold mobs off, and disease/death themed DoT's and nukes to hurt mobs. And preferrably with lifetaps to keep my health up should mobs decide to attack me. That is, in summary, the main playstyle of an EQ1 necromancer. So, in RIFT, you take Necromamcer for your first soul. That gives you the pet, and some DoTs/nukes. Then, for your second soul, you take Warlock, and that gives you more damage spells, and more importantly, lifetap DoT. Bingo, it plays like an EQ1 necromancer (though admittedly a little more fun!) For your third soul, I suppose it's up to you - I took Dominator, because when soloing what'll mess you up are adds - with Dominator you just turn 'em into squirrels for 30 seconds and deal with 'em when you can. It's a lot of fun.
The newbie progression is fairly standard for a modern MMO. You go from camp to camp, following a linked chain of stories. In the case of RIFT these are very good stories, and definitely "serious" as opposed to more "comedy" ala WoW. You get introduced to game features such as world interactions, gathering skills, and the Rift system that is the game's main unique feature. The "newbie rifts" are said to be pretty weak compared to real ones, but they were still fun.
Anyway, I haven't even thought of buying an MMO for all of 2010. I simply don't have much gaming time anymore, so it's hard to justify $50 or $60 for a game, much less the sub anymore. I haven't had a game sub active for quite some time - unless you count my Lifetime sub to STO, but of course I don't pay monthly for that. RIFT has me on the fence. I'm kinda thinking of buying it, but I know I'll never have enough time to really make it pay off, so I probably won't. But the main thing is, it has me excited about a game enough to even consider it. And that's no small feat.
I'm hoping Trion has their ducks in a row as far as release is concerned. If RIFT releases completely smoothly, with zero (or very minimal) issues, it will likely be a huge success. If it has the now-expected-as-normal disastrous release, well, it will fail like all the rest. I'm hoping Trion realizes this and over-plans for release. Demand will be huge, and if they estimate how many servers/etc they'll need and maybe double it... that might be enough. Real estate is all about "location, location, location" and MMOs are all about "release, release, release." Trion: don't screw the release-pooch! Buck the norm!
Our weekend was extremely varied and exciting! Did a lot of new stuff, and something we hadn't done in ages.
So we knew this band-with-a-cool-name, We Are Hex, was playing at The Black Sparrow (best bar in all of Lafayette, perhaps the world) on Friday, but didn't know much about them. I'd tried to listen to their samples on my phone on Wednesday or Thursday evening but it wasn't working so I didn't give it much more thought.
But during the Evil Portion™ (work) of Friday, I get this Facebook update, "Lizz is attending We Are Hex @ Black Sparrow." Well, guess I'm going too then. ;) For the next 30-45 minutes we raved back and forth in chat about how good their sound was. Heh. Their sound is a bit hard to describe, but listening to a few of their tracks, we both noticed similarities to Siouxsie and the Banshees (particularly the lead singer's voice, and some of the guitar work), and a lot of other post-punk type music. But, making comparisons like this tends to make people think you're talking about a "clone" of the similar bands, and this band is not a clone of anything; they just have some similarities. It's very good stuff. So, we had to see them live.
Because the show was 11pm-2am, we knew we'd need a little refresher nap before the show, so Friday evening sort of began with a nice relaxing nap. Nine o'clock rolled around and we woke up, and were feeling a little crowd-anxious. Sparrow isn't exactly a giant concert hall; instead it's a cozy bar. Neither of us like crowds, mainly due to past trauma/uncomfortableness (long-time readers of the blog will understand). We talked back and forth for about 30-40 minutes and finally decided "screw it!" and went.
And "Bob" are we glad we did! Excellent show! We'd heard the band is, as they say, "going places," and after seeing/hearing them live, it's easy to see why. The vocalist really knows how to put on a show, and the rest of the band is top-notch too. I just can't say enough good about this band - you need to just listen yourself. After the show, we bought a pair of their albums, one on CD, the other on vinyl.
After the show, we stumbled home, raved about the show for about 30 minutes, and collapsed into slumberland.
Saturday AM was already blocked out for heading over to Wabash Mountain Farm to start building work on the poultry plucking machine that is part of the whole chicken raising plot I've been blogging about for a while. So we got up, had our coffee and got ready and headed over. There were a total of 6 of us working on it and we got a lot done! Lizz and I did most of the preparation of the tub. Measuring and cutting, then measuring for the 50 plucking fingers that go into it, then drilling holes and installing said fingers. Another team worked on the frame for the thing and other tasks. It was a lot of fun! There are photos up on Facebook if you follow me there.
After that, it was off to Delphi to get our cow share milk for the week. On the way we stopped at the antique shop in Delphi to look around. Some curiosities we'd seen there in June were still there, and we were still wanting to acquire them, so we did! If you're lucky enough to have Lizz friended on FB, you've probably already seen the pictures. If not, oh well! :D
Then we were back home for a relaxing rest-of-Saturday.
Sunday morning was Death of Guinea Fowl™ time, and there's already a blog entry documenting that. I would like to add that having witnessed and helped with the actual conversion of a living animal into food was a very good thing for me, and something I'd been wanting to take part in for quite a while. Will be doing a lot more of it, as we're part of the Chicken Raising Cabal™. ;)
The rest of Sunday proceeded nice and fun/relaxing. We had a very interesting conversation with someone while we were out, that then sparked a longer discussion between just us later on. We were asked how we knew a certain shared friend, and then the discussion led to talking about a huge parcel of land about 50-60 miles from here that is somewhat of a shared farm/commune (sort of!), that we all knew about. The person we were talking to said that if things "got bad" that's where he'd head to hole up/survive/etc. We sort of agreed - but that ended up being what we talked about later.
Lizz said she thought it might be better to stay in our neighborhood/area, and help make sure our neighbors and such are ok, and I agreed, with the added thought that it probably would depend on what level of "got bad" occurred. Neither of us believe the true SHTF is likely the way a lot of folks do, but we do understand that smaller, more localized mini-SHTF's can happen - that and large-ish natural disasters. So we basically decided that trying to hold steady in our own area would be best, assuming it doesn't come down to The True SHTF™ Which again, neither of us believe is at all likely.
There's also the issue of attitudes of people at this land/shared space. Are they ok with self-defense? Etc? We don't know. But, we've been invited multiple times to check this thing out, so we still might. If nothing else, would just be a fun road trip, and something cool to see. /shrug!
We also went to People's Brewing Company for a pint. Always excellent beer, and usually good conversations to be had there. Ended up talking about what it's like in Hawaii (the bartender was raised there), and the differences between annoying overly-rich people and "hippies."
Capped off the night by testing out some new backend features I'd been working on for Lizz's business - both of them worked flawlessly (for the most part) and will save tons of time (as well as hand-pain and frustration) for her in the future. Made me super happy to be able to help in such a direct way.
So, was a kick-ass weekend. I also got a decent amount of time in RIFT beta, but I'll make a separate blog entry about that.
Today Lizz and I went to Wabash Mountain Farm to help (and learn how to) process 2 guinea fowl roosters. Please note that by "process," I do mean kill, scald, pluck, eviscerate, and cool said birds, so that we can eat them.
Given that, some of the photos may be upsetting to some people, so I'm going to make this entry 2 pages. If you accept that some of the photos might bother you, go ahead and click through to page 2. Note that I think everyone should see where their food comes from, but I do believe it's wrong to throw pictures of animal guts/etc in people's faces.
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Published on January 7th, 2011 @ 07:37:00 am , using 851 words, 640 views
I haven't written an entry about RIFT yet, for (mainly) a couple of reasons. The first is that I haven't got a lot of time to play in the three beta events that have happened so far. The other is that the game is very well covered by the blogging world and gaming press anyway. But, I felt it was time to talk a little about it.
I've been in all three of the beta events to date, but have only had a few hours at most in each. As a testing vet, the first thing I noticed was how stable and polished the game was, even during the first beta event. Tooltips were already in place for instance; many times they're the last thing that gets added before release! I kept wondering who funded the game, as this is not the level of quality and polish I expect from a new/unknown developer; it's A-list polish/quality all the way. Trion's got some big funding from somewhere, else they're just amazingly talented. Perhaps both.
Another interesting thing is that during the first beta event, chat was alive with Everquest vets saying "Wow, this brings back my old EQ memories!" and similar. Also interesting is that before I said anything, my wife looked over at my monitor and said "Wow, that reminds me of EQ!" Now, RIFT looks nothing like EQ, really. Sure, it's a fantasy game. But the graphics are leaps and bounds over what EQ can do, of course. But as I played a little more, yeah, I can see what people mean. It's not any one thing. It's just... somehow... EQ-like. In every good sense of the word.
The class system is very cool. You pick a "Calling" - Warrior, Cleric, Rogue, or Mage. Yeah, sounds boring, eh? It's not. Then, each of those Callings has a bunch of "Souls" within it, all of different classes. So Mage has Pyromancer, Necromancer, and maybe 8 others. So right away, you pick one of these souls. And then you gain the abilities of that soul - basically, you are now that class. But that's not where it ends! After a few levels, you can pick another soul and gain the abilities of that class too. And you don't have to swap back and forth - you're both at once! Eventually, you get more. Of course, to gain abilities in a class, you have to put points into a tree - but - this still gives you the ability to custom-roll a unique combo that you like. It's not as flexible as truly skill-based building systems like UO or AO or EVE, but it's a good balance between rigid single-class systems and skill-based systems. There are tooltip suggestions as to what classes are good combos, but you're free to do what you like.
The game is a fairly standard PvE MMO along DIKU (EQ, WoW, LOTRO, EQ2, etc) lines. You do quests, you explore, you level up, you get loot, etc. A lot have called it an evolved WoW with more back-to-EQ roots. I pretty much agree. A big difference between RIFT and WoW is the lack of pervasive pop culture humor and cartoon hijinks. RIFT feels "serious;" those of us that like our RPGs serious will love RIFT.
The big feature in RIFT is of course the Rift invasions that can happen anytime, anywhere. I haven't experienced one yet, but from what I'm reading, if players don't band together to fight one back, the whole zone it's in can be overrun! It's a real cooperative effort, and people are saying it's a ton of fun! So that brings back the old "OMG OMG OMG Sand Giant in North Ro!" feeling from EQ. North Ro is a level 8-15 or so zone, and Sand Giants are level 35 mobs that hit like mack trucks. One could appear and just mess up your world. ;) Rifts are like that, times 1000 from what I hear.
During the last beta event, #3, I got to try out the Necromancer soul (class). Oh boy. As readers probably know, I'm a Necromancer fan. I was a Necromancer in EQ from 1999-present. First Sevok, then after a stupid "I quit" break where I sold my original account, I came back and made Sovek, and re-leveled. In EQ2 I'm also a Necromancer. I love the class. Did not like what AoC did with the Necromancer name. Cold nukes? Sorry, not a Necro. Anyway! RIFT's Necromancer is a Real Necromancer©™. Sevok seal of approval. A skeleton pet, and lots of disease and death based DoT spells. Oh yes. :)
Anyway. I've received my invite for the next event, which starts today - event #4, which will test the PvP system. Should be interesting. The game releases 3/11/2011, which to me seems very quick since we're still in closed beta and the beta still isn't 24/7, but, like I said earlier, it's very polished and this one might have a smooth release, after years and years of mostly disastrous MMO releases. If release goes smoothly, I predict a very bright future for this one. But as always, it all hinges on release smoothness!
I hope it's flawless.