Friday Chat, Bad Day Chat

I can hear them even now – whiff, whiff, whiff. The sound of my new back to school cords, junior high late 70s. Crisp now, they would weigh me down in that cold October rain waiting for the bus, absorbing like a new sponge technology. This is the first bad day in the calendar since February. Mellow fruitfulness? HAH!

  • Here’s a bit of what I lost when I was taken to school as a kid. My access to Uncle Bobby and his ilk. I always thought that Bibmo the Birthday clown was freakish and the Mars landing quality picture of him under that link does nothing to help his cause.
  • Remember when Scotland always won at soccer? And by the way, that blown catch at Fenway by Rios the Blue Jay last night was the funniest thing I have seen in months.
  • I now like the Foo Fighters even more because it what you want to listen to when you are down under down under:

    The men were stuck in a Tasmanian mine when it collapsed in May, and passed the time listening to the Foo Fighters on MP3 players handed to them. Grohl said he would meet the two when the band tour Australia in November. “I’m not just having one beer with those dudes – we’re going for it,” he told the country’s ABC radio. “This is going to be a big night.”

    I have always thought that the mining disaster survivior population would be a nautral fit for rock star adoration.

  • Big doings with our forces in Afganistan who are going to take a province, Panjwaii, back soon. It is an example of how the Taliban are not terrorists or really even insurgents if this quote is correct:

    One Afghan leader from the area said NATO is in for a tough fight that won’t end once troops move in. He said the alliance should attempt some form of reconciliation with local militants. Haji Agha Lalai, the chief Panjwaii district elder who was chased out of his village by Taliban, said the insurgents have infiltrated every aspect of life there. “They own shops, they own homes there, they will not retreat,” Mr. Lalai predicted. “There are many types of Taliban, but these are the warriors. They have been told to fight and they will fight.”

    Whatever they are, they are nasty pieces of work and as will be actually capturing a large area from them and holding it. This is the area where Canadian troops killed 72 Taliban soldiers a few weeks ago after they ambushed an ambush.

  • Interesting to note that King for a bit more Ralph admits the Alberta boom was in fact unexpected, unprepared for, caused by a shift in a natural resource and is causing economic problems like local inflation and the inability to get projects off the ground due to shortgages. Interesting given those who say it was through hard work and conservative economic principles even though the same hardwork and conservative economic principles applies and have applied to most of the rest of the country for the last decade and a half.
  • I have been spending an inordinate amount of time at the Cooperstown Ballcap Co. . Their research prowess is phenomenal. Check out the cap for “BANANA WORKERS, 1935”.

So there you are. Enjoy the last real day of summer. A prize to the first person who spots some one else at work and an extra prize if that person is actually conscious.

Quick Note: Shepherd Neame Goldings, England

We don’t get enough Shepherd Neame around here. Just Bishop’s Finger in the LCBO and I thought I had heard rumours that even its days might be numbered. And just like Spitfire was a seasonal release from the government store in 2004, so too this summer we had their Goldings Summer Hop Ale.

I have to re-adjust just my scale for English pale ale. Having much more access to the heavier hoppier US versions you have to gear back and think of these not as light ales but delicate ones. And delicate this one is indeed. Pure white pin-point foam and lace over amber ale. The aroma is floral and reserved. Not staid, though – more freesia than marigold. In the mouth there is a gush of fresh water, pale ale bread crust graininess, plenty of stone fruit – apple, pear, peach notes – and a nice lemony citric hop bite. A gentler pale but worthy.

The 17 BA reviewers are 12% unhappy. Restless. Some say too watery. Some say not enough hop. Even at 4.7%, I say this is a decent English best bitter and that is something you don’t get your hands on too much anymore in the international drive for big. I like.


“A Glass Of Handmade”

There are a few moments I can point to in my memory that represent elemental changes that helped frame my interest in beer. The first time I was allowed to dip a finger in a Labatt Blue; the Olands Ex I had at my pal’s house in high school; the visit I made to the Pitfield Beer Shop in 1986 from which I returned to Nova Scotia with beer making tools including two polypin cubes as well as Dave Line‘s Big Book of Brewing; and finding an article in an issue of The Atlantic in 1987 that gave me some hope that there was going to be a bigger world of beer out there, even with the first bottles of long-gone Hans Haus beers arriving in the liquor stores or our regular attendance at the first Granite Brewery at the old Ginger’s Tavern in Halifax (oddly excluded from the brewery’s own sense of history which starts in 1991 but referenced in this home brewers digest from 29 November 1989).

That article was “A Glass of Handmade” by William Least Heat Moon and I have finally located a copy on the internet which I have filed in the archives. It starts out with the following introduction:

The industrial brewers continue to prosper; but now they are facing a new challenge from local brewers across the country who are dedicated to turning out brews that have only one thing in common with industrial beer – wetness.

What I love about the article now is its place in time including some quirks – Redhook is considered a huge break-through, common terms need explaining as in “boutique, or micro-, brewery” and now famous names are played out like the obscure tiny operations they then were. It is a gem of an article with a great last line I have used for almost twenty years now. Here it is. Please add your reviews in the comments when you have had a good read through.

God’s Hand

It was interesting to read these words in a Martin O’Malley bit hidden on somewhere quoting the Colorado Rockies Manager of all people:

“You look at things that have happened to us this year. You look at some of the moves we made and didn’t make. You look at some of the games we’re winning. Those aren’t just a coincidence. God has definitely had a hand in this.”

He meant it in a good way. Languishing as they are now at .429, does Satan now get the credit? Separate from the entirely sensible personal faith decisions of the players¹, just as with each of us, the larger role of the Christian pantheon and the sports-related religiousity of the fan’s expectation of outcome has never been very clear to me. Where stand the Cherubim, for example? Do they hover, guiding the bunted ball this way or that way along the third-base line? Why does Jesus not guide the hand of the child at catcher in the picture, too?

It was interesting to consider that quote and the statuette in light of the total collapse of the Red Sox that has gone from just bad pitching to something far worse. David Ortiz, the team’s star designated hitter, appears to be suffered from rapid heartbeat. Manny Ramirez also was out with knee problems and has missed his fifth start in seven games. That is in addition to the fact that “Doug Mirabelli (left ankle) and Wily Mo Pena (left wrist) are still day-to-day. Jason Varitek, Trot Nixon and Alex Gonzalez are all on the disabled list.” That is basically 2/3s of the team other than the pitching. And the pitching is not doing that well – which is a very polite way of putting it. Yet He abides with us.

But even with all that abiding – what do you make of a month like this? The World Series is a long way away but I seem to recall thinking that one was enough. I had made that pact before it happened, a little prayer. Was it me?

¹ One cannot but be impressed, for example, by Wakefield’s good works in the community or Timlin’s calm strength on the mound even as they may be dealing with the end of their best pitching years.

Is This The Hat For The KSPC?

Now that the “Kingston Society for Playing Catch” (KSPC) has been founded and the flood of offers for branches world-wide have begun to pour in, the important question of the cap is rearing its head. There must be a cap. I don’t know if this is it. Kingston’s traditional sporting colours are black and yellow. A black hat with a simple “K” in yellow might be just the thing. Each branch would have the one-letter logo in local colours.

But that one letter would have to be in common font to go with the “KSPC” on the back to maintain the global identity. I lost sleep over the weekend on the question of font. The right font is a massive decision with brainiacs a plenty out there who know what needs to be known. If it could be a Pabst Oldstyle “K” that might be the best. Yes, I like Pabst and not just because of PBR or, rather, the PBRs.

August SW Ontario Road Trip

Mucho fried after 17 hours in 48 driving, driving, driving along with the questionable food and the more questionable guest bed arrangements. I could have been to Boston or even farther and back. Not too much to complain about as I dropped by a couple of breweries on the way, including my first trip to Neustadt Springs, home of the excellently named 10W30 dark ale and also picked up some new ones for me from Church-Key.

Ontario: Neustadt Springs Brewery, Neustadt, Bruce County

neu3As I headed up from Stratford towards Owen Sound on a family tour, I knew that Neustadt was roughly on the way but I had to figure out the shift in the north-south concession lot roads from the north-west to south-east ones…and I got a little lost. South of Clifford on highway 9 I got my bearings again and soon was there. Watch out if you find yourself on School Road #7, though. I am glad I did find my way there as my whole family was treated to the sort of tour of Neustadt Springs Brewery by owners Val and Andy Stimpson, up and around the brewing equipment, that I really love and the others tolerate in return for all the other great things I do in life…really.








You may recollect that Neustadt’s 10W30 is a favorite of mine. Well, meeting the couple that make this brew was a real treat and also an education. We were shown their special import New Zealand hops, asked to grind a few pellets and shown which ones have hints of kiwi fruit and mango. Dandy. We were also given some of the short run Manchester Bitter to try and had a few secrets shared. I found it an excellent light beer in something of the light mild tradition. You will note there was only a bit left when I thought to take the photo of the brew.









After that, when the kids got a bit Dad’s-dragged-me-to-a-brewery…again, Andy said he’d take care of them and we all went off to the cellars. You see Neustadt is a 21st century micro sitting in and on top of a mid-Victorian brewery, the Heuther Brewery opened in 1868 or so and run by a cousin of the original operator of the now revived Heuther Hotel, another modern micro-brewery in Waterloo. In the basement we were shown the brewing area, the tunnels to the downtown area of the village as well as the one to the Victorian brewer’s home. We were also shown the air vents, below left, dug into the ground to keep the air sweet.








Great stuff. So now I got to support Ontario craft brewers while picking up a dandy 10W30 glass and t-shirt as well as a bunch of bottles fresh from storage. In the fall they are putting on a porter. Worth the trip if their other beers are anything to go by. Here’s the BAers take on the beers.

Directions to Neustadt Springs

Friday Cogitiferiffic Chatarama

Who the hell ever thought I would make it to August 25th 2006? Aside from the whole thing in Mexico in ’66 (thank you Pepe), I got through the nuclear war along with all of you, got through my teens without being eaten by a backroad ditch along with pals, got though a holiday in Paris as Syria was blowing bits of it up in ’86 and survived the Kings Cross Fire in ’87. Things got a little dull after that and law school and stuff but then there was the 5.4 earthquake in ’97 and that weird day in PEI around Jan. ’03 when I decided to head out of work early and got caught in a blizzard that was so thick I could only make out where the road was by checking out the tops of telephone polls. Whew. What a roller coaster. But here we are. August 25, 2006. Woot. I’m taking half a day to celebrate.

– Final lunchtime update before hitting the road update: I just created the “Kingston Society for Playing Catch” after looking at the picture of David Sommerstein of NCPR at this page. Expect splintering schismists branching out into “Adult Novice 500 Up” but that is their business and may also morph into a heritage group playing trapball and the other early games. The “Kingston Society for Playing Catch” is hereby soliciting membership as well as designs for the hat which must feature a “K” on the front. Submissions and proposals to be posted here.

– Update for the road update: As I did so triumphantly for “flogging”, I just now coined “clogging” for filling up the comments section of a blog with technically incapable comments or, I suppose, just going on and on…like this.

– It is a sad, sad day when the yapping of bloggers is not what shapes the news but is the news. Bo-ring. Everyone lay on the floor, wiggle around now and scream as one – “STOP PRETENDING BLOGS ARE NEWS!!!” I heard you . Thanks.

– There are men of destiny and then there are others who are not:

The owner of a restaurant named after Adolf Hitler said yesterday he will change its name because it angered so many people.

– I am watching the post- or to some mid- conflict reaction in Israel. Remember this post from last month. The concern appears to be mainly the lack of ability to impose immediate overwhelming force as opposed to ultimate peace – which is fine but the taxi driver may not have had that breath of relief. It is such a foreign existence it is hard to even imagine it.

One clawed back. Five and a half to go.

Gary’s Blogger blog has taken off nicely. Interesting post on pottery restoration services. Now there is a situation that requires a van with a big engine and the right to break the speed limit – Vrrrooommmmm. I say it gets designated the all important and still available purple flashing light.

– Have you noticed that certain cheater-ramas have entirly poached the Friday bullet idea? I knew I should have copyrighted this fantastic idea when I had the chance. Imagine the dollar bills flowing over my upstretched face and arms. Imagine.

Isn’t that enough? Off to see the newest member of the clan who is supposed to enter this world around noon and then off to grannie-in-law’s to talk sports of the 1920s to today. When is someone going to try that music format of “the music of the 20th century” anyway? Al Jolson then Ramones then “The Biggest Aspidistra In The World” then ringing my bell.