Monday, April 30, 2007

Red Barchetta

I just scored 9 out of 10 on this Rush Trivia Quiz on CBC. My official result was:
"You scored 9 out of 10.

The Spirit of Radio was about a radio station. When Rush writes The Spirit of Internet Quizzes it will be about you."

What can I say? They're the greatest band to ever pick up a guitar.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


I've always wanted to do one of these, so I copied Gwen's...


1. *What is your occupation?* Programmer---mainly Java, do other odd bits in Perl, sh, etc.

2. *What color are your socks right now?* faded grey

3. *What are you listening to right now?* A sermon on church order. I'm about to put on "Zoot Suit Riot".

4. *What was the last thing that you ate?* I'm still eating a loaded bagel with cream cheese.

5. *Can you drive a stick shift?* Yeah. Not as well as Gwen, of course. But I taught her in my '81 VW Rabbit, so I should get some credit.

6. *If you were a crayon, what color would you be?* Hunter green

7. *Last person you spoke to on the phone?* Ames

8. *How old are you today?* 34. Tomorrow is my 35th birthday

9. *Favorite drink? --alcoholic or non-alcoholic????--* Beer

10. *What is your favorite sport to watch?* Hockey

11. *Have you ever dyed your hair?* Yup, I was a high school teacher, and I used Kool-Aid to get my hair to the school color (blue) for some special event or another.

12. *Pets?* Not any more: daughter has allergies.

13. *Favorite food?* NC BBQ: pulled pork with a vinegar sauce

14. *What was the last movie you watched?* The Princess Bride

15. *Favorite day of the year?* Thanksgiving. If I were still in Canada it would be Christmas Eve, but here in the States, Thanksgiving beats it out narrowly.

16. *What do you do to vent anger?* Nothing: I let it build up inside. Once I've gotten enough saved up, I'll buy a high-powered rifle and find a water tower

17. *What was your favorite toy as a child?* Lego

18. *What is your favourite, fall or spring?* Fall

19. *Hugs or kisses?* I have personal space issues. My wife and kids can hug/kiss me; but everyone else needs to keep a respectful distance.

20. *Cherries or Blueberry?* Cherries

21. *Jeans or Skirt?* I only wear a skirt to certain bars *cough*.

22. *Who is most likely to respond?* No one. I am silently wasting my life in ignored, impotent rage.

23. *Who is least likely to respond?* Gwen

24. *Living arrangements?* Wife, three kids, myself.

25. *When was the last time you cried?* Can't remember. Boys don't cry.

26. *What is on the floor of your closet?* Shoes, beer, some Lego boxes.

27. *Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending/tagging this to?* ?

28. *What did you do last night?* Went to prayer meeting.

29. *Favorite smells?* Raspberry.

30. *What inspires you?* Not sure

31. *What are you afraid of?* Mockery

33. *Favorite dog breed:* Rottweiler

34. *How many years at your current job?* 16 months.

35. *Favorite day of the week?* Friday

36. *How many cities or towns have you lived in?* YBL, YYJ, STL, Rockingham, GRR, CLT.

38. *Ever driven a Motorcycle or heavy machinery?* Hurt myself on a motorcycle: not bad, but bad enough to never try it again.

40. *Do you have a house phone that is NOT cordless?* Yup.

41. *10 inches of snow or 100 degree weather?* 10 inches of snow

42.*List the name of the person that sent this TAG to you.....* I'm blatantly stealing this from Gwen.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


One of the Epicurean pleasures close to my heart is beer. I like wine, but I like beer more.

When I was younger, I kept a beer tasting notebook, and would enthusiastically search out any new beer I could find; just to add it to my repertoire. I used to read books on beer, participate in, and discuss beer carefully with other beer drinkers.

Now I just drink it and enjoy it.

I don’t like to get inebriated. I drink beer for the flavor, not the effect. I typically cut myself off after a couple, or as soon as I can feel it.

Beers can be generally divided into two categories: ales and lagers. Ale is beer made with yeast that floats: it’s sometimes called “top-fermenting beer”. Lager is made with yeast that sinks: it is sometimes called “bottom-fermenting”. Ales are fermented at a higher temperature than lagers, and the yeast tends to produce a fruitier drink, since the floating yeast tends to pick up wild strains in the air. Lagers ferment at lower temperatures, and produce “cleaner” flavors, and typically a cleaner-looking beer.

German and Czech breweries typically make lagers; beers like Warsteiner or Pilsener Urquel are lagers. British and Belgian brewers tend to create ales: stouts, porters, and bitter are all ales.

There’s no difference in strength between lager and ale: the strongest beers in the world are pretty evenly divided between lager and ale.

I prefer ale to lager, and I typically drink British or Belgian beers. The Belgians perfected the “Abbey Ale”, which is a strong (typically more than 8% ABV) or “high gravity” beer. They are typically bottled in larger bottles (typically 750 mL bottles) with live yeast and sugar, so they continue to ferment in the bottle. The British term for that is “Barleywine”, although they don’t use it very consistently. I use the term “British” to include all the British Isles: so I consider Guinness to be a British beer, although it is Irish.

So after that primer, let’s look at some of my favorites:

UnibroueTerrible. This is probably my all-time favorite beer. It’s dark. Not “dark” like Guinness, “dark” like “black”. It looks like soy sauce. And it’s strong: 10% ABV. Now, this stuff is too strong for every-day drinking; but Unibroue makes a “light” version (heh), called Chambly Noir. If I had to forsake all beers but one, it would be Terrible or maybe Chambly Noir This stuff makes Chimay look like a girlie beer.

Irish (dry) stout: Beamish, Murphy’s, Guinness. My “everyday beer” would have to be Irish stout. My favorites are these three, but I’m always willing to try something else. These three each have a subtly different flavor, but I like them all, and am occasionally found sitting in a pub with three pints: one each, in front of me. Sometimes people assume I like porter because I like stout, but I don’t. I have no rational explanation for it, but I don’t like porter at all. I’ve tried a lot of porters, and not one struck me as a good beer. Weird.

Smithwick’s. This is an Irish ale that is making an appearance all over my area. A couple years ago, this was only available in “Irish pubs”, now it’s in all the grocery stores. If you like Smithwick’s, another wonderful beer to try is Belhaven’s Scottish Ale. Wonderful, dark, peaty.

Chimay Grande Reserve. Chimay is the “original” Trappist brewery. Well, probably not, but it’s pretty close. This is the gold standard for an abbey ale, but it’s not my favorite. One thing to note about Chimay: it needs to sit a while before drinking. Grande Reserve is almost always too young to drink when you buy it. Experimentation has led me to believe it needs to sit at least four years before opening. Michael Jackson, one of the world’s foremost authorities on beer, claims the shelf life of this beer to be around 25 years, so you don’t need to worry about leaving it too long...

Samuel Adams Summer Ale. Samuel Adams beers are made by Boston Brewing Company in New England. They are all supposedly “craft beers”, but I think the operation is certainly too large for anyone to consider it a “micro-brew”. I’ve drunk a lot of Sam Adams beers, and I have to say I don’t like them for the most part. Having said that, I eagerly await their Summer Ale every year. It’s almost perfect as a warm-weather brew. It’s considerably lighter than I normally drink, but it has the perfect hint of wheat, a light hoppiness, and a mild spicy flavor. I keep this stuff on hand from April to September.

Unibroue Maudite Maudite is a drinkable Belgian. Well, it’s not really Belgian, but it’s a wanna-be Belgian, and it’s a good, solid beer. I try to keep some of this on hand. It’s not cheap, but it’s decent as Belgians go ($7 or $8 for 750 mL), and it’s a great bang-for-your-buck deal.

Delirium Tremens. Some people consider this the perfect beer. It’s a little too light for my taste (straw-colored), but the flavor is excellent, and it’s a great drink. It’s a little expensive in my neck of the woods (typically $9 for 750 mL), but I keep a bottle or two on hand for special occasions. The same brewery also makes Delirium Nocturnum and Delirium Noel. I think they’re both better than the Tremens, but Tremens appears to be their most popular line: it’s the easiest to find.

Corsendonk. Corsendonk makes several beers, none of them bad. I think I like their Christmas ale best of all, but their Abbey Brown is delightful.

This is not a complete list, but it hits some high points. And please be aware that my tastes change suddenly, without rhyme or reason. But I am generally considered an aficionado: I have never been accused of bad taste when it comes to beer.

As a special treat, I’ve included some photos of my own beer collection. This is not complete, in the sense that I have more beer in my “cellar” than I’ve shown here. But it is a few I’ve squirreled away, so to speak:
Beer Gallery

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mostly Harmless

I always found it strange: when I encounter someone I previously met, I almost always remember the person; but very rarely does the other person remember me. I'm not talking about an old friend, of course. I'm talking about someone to whom I was introduced once, or maybe someone who was a casual acquaintance.

I used to think it was because I had a better memory than most people: they might have trouble remembering me, but I have no trouble remembering them!

Then I thought it was because people are very important to me, so I naturally remember meeting them.

But in the last couple years, the more plausible explanation occurred: perhaps it's because I'm singularly unremarkable.

As I've thought it over, I've come to the rather unfortunate conclusion that it is the most obvious and most plausible answer. Of course, this is a case where the most likely explanation is also the most ominous.

I guess the hard part of realizing I am unremarkable is, it strikes the ego a real death blow. I assume I'm like most people in liking to think of myself as somewhat special: perhaps even somewhat unique. But the more I think about it, the more I realize it's probably not true.

Well, one way or another, I suppose I've gotten to the bottom of it.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Which Church Father are you?

You’re St. Melito of Sardis!

You have a great love of history and liturgy. You’re attached to the traditions of the ancients, yet you recognize that the old world — great as it was — is passing away. You are loyal to the customs of your family, though you do not hesitate to call family members to account for their sins.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Culinary Meme

This is the one Gwen posted a while ago. I thought I'd go ahead and answer. Of course, ames cooks differently than I do, so her answers would be different.

Culinary Meme
Most used gadget: Coffee maker. Or maybe that little handle that lifts the grates off my grill.
Most used item in the whole kitchen: Hmmm... would be my grill, but that's outside. In the kitchen, my Henckels 9-inch Chef's knife.
Last time I cooked for a crowd: Last Friday night, grilled porkchops for eleven.
Who had the most influence on my cooking: Bobo
Most used spice: Garlic---fresh or powdered: they both have their place
Favourite ice cream: Denali Bear Claw
Coffee... ground or whole beans? Whole beans
Peanut Butter... crunchy or smooth? Crunchy
Pet peeve in someone else's kitchen: Trying to use a paring knife for real work.
Too many in the freezer: chicken legs
Wine... white or red: Usually red: Spanish Grenache or Zinfandel
Evian water? "Evian" is "naive" spelled backwards. I do like Pellegrino mit Gasse
Favourite fruit: raspberries
Vegetable I hate: brussels sprouts
Food mispronunciation that grinds my gears: None really.
Favourite sandwich: Salami, ham, capicola, lettuce, tomato, onions, provalone, Italian dressing on a Hero roll
Indispensable condiment: Cholula Sauce
Seafood? Kosher: fins & scales
Salsa... with or without cilantro? Without
Carbs: Huh? What kind of stupid question is that? Today for lunch I had baked meat ravioli and half a (small) loaded pizza...