Poooof! Blowing the Dust Away

It’s been a long time. Apparently it’s been five years. That’s long enough for a lot of hackers and spammers to have trashed the installation of WordPress this site runs on because I wasn’t actively keeping it up to date. One of the drawbacks of setting up your own blog back in the dark ages of blogging was that you had to do so much of it yourself. At the time (way back in 2002!), I had time to maintain a web server and make sure the code stayed up to date. How things have changed!

So much has changed that I don’t even know where to begin, so I will just begin with this: Hello again. I’ve missed you. Let’s start again, shall we?

Hoptober Golden Ale Returns


Hoptober is back!

Hoptober is made up of Centennial, Cascade, Sterling, Willamette and Glacier hops, while pale and wheat malt are mashed with rye and oats. Its creative elements spark a bonfire of citrus notes, fruity cheers and a bold finale.

“The wide array of hops creates a series of flavors that slowly unfold on the palate,” said Bryan Simpson, New Belgium spokesperson. “This beer embodies the shift to fall with its bountiful taste and blend of ingredients.”

Ed Dopman, San Francisco Beer Ranger and champion of the 2009 Ultimate Beer Ranger Challenge, recommends pairing Hoptober with Italian fennel salami and Taleggio cheese on sourdough bread.

“The five hops used in Hoptober provide just enough bitterness to cut the buttery, meaty flavors of Italian fennel salami, Taleggio cheese and sourdough bread,” said Dopman. “The four malts used in brewing this golden ale also give just the right body to stand up to the autumn wind, while remaining delicate enough to quench one’s thirst after a bike ride.”

So good. So happy.

The 2010 Tour


If you didn’t watch the Tour de France this year, this is really the image that sums up the whole race. From Bicycling Magazine:

After dropping his chain during an attack on the Bales climb, Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck tries desperately to chase Alberto Contador, Denis Menchov and Samuel Sanchez. At the end of the day he would finish 39 seconds behind and lose his yellow jersey by 8 seconds.

The reason this was *the* moment of the Tour is that Contador ended up winning the overall Tour by 39 seconds — exactly what he stole from Schleck in Stage 15.

Still, Contador is a strong rider who rode well and hard and deserved to win. It was an awesome Tour. I’m looking forward to next year. Was this Schleck’s peak or will he run away with it? Or will someone else emerge to dominate both of this year’s leaders? If you think cycling is not fun and exciting to watch, give the Tour a chance; it just might change your mind.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2010

We spent Friday evening and are going again today to Pitchfork here in Chicago. The reviews on the Time Out Blog pretty well capture my impression of what we saw on Friday, including: Modest Mouse, and Robyn, and Broken Social Scene. Missing is the note that the sound for BSS was terrible. There’s a difference between static and feedback, and this was definitely static. Still, great festival on Friday. We’re looking forward some great (if very hot and humid) performances this afternoon, too.

New Belgium Ranger: clear amber beauty

If you’re looking for a great beer this summer, check out Ranger IPA from New Belgium. It’s supposedly their answer to the demand for “more hops!” Whatever it is, it’s full of flavor with a nice hoppy bitterness that finishes light and smooth. It’s great cold and perfect for a bit of refreshment after a hot and humid summer day. As far as I’m concerned, New Belgium answered the hop call last fall with its seasonal Hoptober Golden Ale, which is absolutely my favorite beer of the moment by a good margin. Alas, it’s not available until the fall; until then, Ranger seems like it will fit the bill just fine.

Speaking of New Belgium, if you’re going to be in Chicago on September 12, 2010 and would like a partner for the Urban Assault Ride, leave a comment below or contact me by email. I’m in if you are.

Cost of beer living

NewImage.jpg I learned last week on the absolutely wonderful Chicago Architectural Foundation boat tour that Chicago was known in the 19th century as a really hard-drinking town. Our docent said something about Chicago having more bars per capita than in all of the states of the southern U.S. combined. So it’s no surprise that Chicago is a great place for drinking beer.

Today it’s also no surprise that it costs a lot to enjoy a tasty cold beverage in Chicago. The best example of this that I’ve seen recently is this: A beer tasting in Chicago costs $65; a beer tasting in Montana costs $25. Sure, the Chicago event features more than twice the number of beers, but really, how many different beers can you taste at one event?

When I moved here the interwebs told me that the cost of living would be 45% higher in Chicago than in Montana. To my dismay, I’m pretty sure the interwebs were right.

Cool links from cool people

Half of babies born in rich world will to 100. That’s going to be hell on social security. New York City’s PS22 Chorus is really surprisingly great. I especially love their version of The Cure’s Pictures of You. I guess Ashton Kutcher does, too, which means I am cool or a tool, and I am not asking you to decide which. Meanwhile, thousands of hyphens perish as English marches on. I never would have thought to put a hyphen in bumblebee anyway, so I’m not going to be a crybaby about it, and neither is my pot belly.

And just so you know, information really is beautiful — just look at where all our money goes. So basically, um, we give most of our public money to the military industrial complex and the banking/financial sector. These appear to be incredibly efficient means to transfer public dollars into private hands. OMG I love this country!

Speaking of which, whatever you think of President Obama’s Nobel Price, you have to agree with the U.S. State Department that we’re making progress when the world is throwing accolades at our leaders instead of shoes.

Also, They Might Be Giants are making music for kids and they performed and talked about it on Science Friday a while back. I did not know the sun was no longer a mass of incandescent gas, but now I do. This information makes me a little sad, but I think I will survive.

Oh, and also also, a year ago today I moved to Chicago. *sigh*

“Nice” day

We had our first real spring-like day yesterday in Chicago with temperatures in the mid-70s. It was beautiful, except apparently not for the ten people who got shot and the one who was stabbed. Apparently, the warm weather makes people violent.

That’s really not cool.

Something that is cool: this group of musicians playing “Kids” by MGMT on their iPhones and iPod Touches.

The above links are proof that there is bad crazy and there is good crazy in this world. Something about that is reassuring.  

Life in Chicago?

This city has absolutely the worst roads I have ever driven on. Potholes everywhere, and once they start, they don’t seem to get filled until they’re deep and wide enough to swallow your wheel whole. Oh, the city pretends to fill them, but the “patches” last for about an hour.

So it’s great that we’ve got the El for an alternative to driving, right? Except, well, you might get stabbed and no one will even try to help you.