The Best of 2007: My Year Interacting With Stuff

Stuff becomes me: I like it and I assimilate it. Every year I think that the stuff I was introduced to was the best stuff and then more stuff comes along and I realize that that is pretty damn good, too. Here is the best stuff of 2007:

  • Pear Juice: pear juice from South Africa in particular. Sounds like a real big whoop but pears are that stealth food that pervades our lives without having all the pushiness of apples or the fear engendering pits of plums, peaches or apricots. Wilde 100% pure pear juice from South Africa is also politically correct and fairly cheap. I never thought that the blackcurrent juices of Poland could be unseated as the juice of the future but there you have it. Life constantly surprises.
  • Sean Kingston: first noticed due to the vaguely menacing joke single “Beautiful Girls”, this Jamaican teen pulls off calypso Zep while saying “girl” just like Bob or maybe Shaggy or maybe Peter. “Shorty” has been added to the vocabulary. “Take You There” plays on winter-get-away package jingles with “Trench Town”.
  • My bench and canoe: really this “best of” is just a celebration of US shopping but the 400 bucks the canoe and bench cost collectively stunned even me, an avid border crosser.
  • BBQ: once again proving that techniques from 57,483 BC still rule, scotched and smoked meats lead the way. Best new ‘que? Smoking extra pork shoulder roasts which are then sliced thin and frozen for mid-winter sangwhichies. Next year? Dropping the wood shavings for solid apple wood blocks.

Not the fanciest stuff nor the most rare to be sure but, really, doesn’t stuff need to be available, reasonable and useful?

The Final Bullets of 2007

You realize, don’t you, that the decade that was brought in with Y2K and all the other millennial whoo-haa is now 80% gone. It doesn’t even have a name and it’s already a senior citizen. Time is flying. Heck, my holiday week off is almost gone. So we better do some prognostications for 2008 before another moment slips away. These are mine:

Sports: Morton will stay up despite being the most points by ties leaders again. Santanawill pitch in the AL East. I may watch an NHL playoff game. I will attend a Watertown Wizards game on a sunny afternoon in late June and consider it a very fine thing.

Canadian politics: There will be an election in 2008 and it won’t be pretty. By any measurement the Harper government has been a dud filed with blamery. What other PM at war could say he is uncertain whether Canadians at large understand the importance of remaining involved in the fight and not realize it is an indictment of his own leadership. The program to bring in accountability has been abandoned, the plan for Bali was to sit at the wet bar while others made a deal and the revival of and reliance on the team from Mulroney era as elder statesmen has been a botch. The opposition may have a GER plan (giving enough rope) but it is unclear if they know how to tie the basic knot required to do the job. In the end, we will have a less stable minority and it won’t matter who wins as the Tories have proven they will implement anyone else’s policies in order to avoid conflict or at least making a decision…and everyone else believes in the same thing anyway.

The World: this could be a nasty one. A year of American election during wartime as well as a Russian one and, perhaps, a Pakistani one. I am going to go out on a limb (ie be wrong) and say that Hillary will not be US president but she may be Vice-President. I will also say that the Republican candidate will be a man and, dare I suggest, a man who has been filmed with a shotgun and wearing hunter’s orange. In the end, it will not matter who wins as the US economy will be weakened further by the botch of a deregulated mortgage system and a consumer credit bubble economy. This will mean there is little or know choice to change course dramatically. China and Russia’s power will increase. A really bad thing will happen and a country somewhere may even be invaded. Magnetic pole reversal will or will not occur but movies (including TV movies of the week) about it happening will be made and we will all be left thinking fondly of the days of movies about meteors and killer waves that wipe out the east coast of the USA. People will reread and adopt both the Flushing Remonstrance and the Declaration of Arbroath to the current situation.

Society, Style and Art: I will continue to have none of the above. The recession will devolve much of the lifestyle columns into discussions about how to cocoon and make jam. Wine will be replaced by beer; tea will take the place of coffee; steak will become sausage; Lego over logo. Privacy will continue to be abandoned in favour of the will of the widget. The internet will become less important than it is even now though someone will make another killer app with mass adoption that will do absolutely nothing for anyone.

Me: through more foster parenting, we will have at least more extra kids in the house than I have fingers on one hand, just like we did in 2007. I will hit 20,000 sit-ups sometime in the summer as I have already hit 8,000 since September. I will have a book deal but it may be for a very short book and the deal may not be that attractive. The garden will expand with ornamental bushes being hacked down and forgotten forever in favour of another herb or one more radish. I will hit my 4,000th post and my fifth year here but attention will more and more be paid to the beer blog, given that it gives. I will finally acquire that trombone mouthpiece. Payments will continue to be made.

Is that all I can expect for 2008, uncertainty or more of the same? I have to be careful, you know. Maybe we can go with something or things unexpected will occur that will have the effect of improving or reducing the quality of our lives to one degree or another. I may go see a band play that I haven’t seem before. I definitely will BBQ a new and unexpectedly tasty mammal. Yes, that I can promise you will happen. There you go. El Predicto speaks.

Stouts: John By Imperial Stout, Scotch Irish Brewing, Ontario

jbis1This is a great new stout from the Scotch Irish Brewing branch of Heritage, the eastern Ontario makers of a very good IPA and a solid, if only seasonal, porter. There is much talk about this one over at the Bar Towel, the province’s beer fan forum, with a little discussion of whether a 6.7% beer can be called an Imperial stout.

Does it matter? Not really. The labels and gradations of beer are as fluid as what is in the glass and what is in this glass is a full bore stout with plenty of the hallmarks of the style. The brew is deep and dark with a narrow brown edge showing when held up against the light. The tan head fades to a thin rim. In the mouth there is a mass of Dutch salty licorice over dark chocolate with some toast and prune treacle, if such a thing exists, underneath. It is all infused with the minty hop that opens up in the finish.

I think this is an excellent example how big need not mean skull-splittingly strong and that Imperial stout can mean grand and not just alcohol ridden. Seven BAers give firm support.

The Friday Bullet Points Of Christmas

Here we are. Another Christmas is upon us and the worst Friday for the idle clock watcher. What to not do when there may not be much to actually do? Eat candy canes in the morning, feel ill and ridden with guilt in the afternoon.

  • Sad Tech Update: Twitter as best bloggy app thingie of the year? Worth having the italicized statement that it “matters“?? While it is sweet to read that some people believe that some others don’t “get it” when, in fact, something just sucks and/or sucks time, how it is possible to think that something as useless (if usable) Twitter “matters”? Love matters. Health matters. Twitter is a place on the web for people who cannot sustain sufficient attention to write, comment upon or even read a blog. The content-driven internet without the obligation of substance. Warning: thought-fraud is afoot. Look out for consultants. Observation: Snood was the last great addition to the world of computing.
  • Update: David updates his post on Catholic rights and I respond sorta thusly with less than success technically speaking so I repeat myself:

    As much as to make sure I comment here as anything, Catholic rights seems a very odd concept to me but, as you will say, it is there plain as plain can be and most likely it is the lack of relation to me that makes me scratch my head. These rights are like PEI being a province, a fact of positive law making it so regardless of the need. But unlike PEI, Catholic rights now seem unbalanced as they are not balancing against their former nemisis – Victorian era Protestant power. Left to its devices, PEI would become Anticosti – but would Rome in Canada fall so easily? In the secularized Canada, is it not the faithful against the materialist shallow Hitchenites as much as the violent puritanical terrorist hijackers whether of Oklahoma City or 9/11? But could there be general Christian rights to state funding, to acceptance as a minority? If not, can Catholic rights (surely now a sub-set homogenous within the whole of the shrinking Canadian patch of Christendom) be anything other than a historic quirk locked into our Constitution? This is not to be anti-Catholic so much as contemporaneously contextual, something admittedly the constitution and perhaps the Church cares little for.

  • Speaking of the workplace, is boredom the natural outcome of the technological miracle of the last 40 years? Not only have we not received out jetpacks, we have not entered into that leisure society that was promised as someone has to answer the phone – or at least record their voice mail message – every single day.
  • Are they morphing into one? Pete Roger Rose-Clemens? Is Schilling that nutty?
  • From meany-pants to Mr. Drip. Please oh please can we be given an effective Federal opposition communications campaign under the tree this year?
  • Wow – doing the right thing actually is a heck of a lot less painful than doing the wrong thing.
  • Rejoice! Now there is more Europe for neocons to crap on. The most successful economic and social experiment since WWII is taking in the poor and making them kings. What will this mean for the dirt poor guy on the bus in Poland who looked at me like I was from outer space when I was there in 1991 teaching in a small Baltic city, when bootlegged western shampoo that smelled like a flower instead of industrial effluent was just showing up in the market?

That’s it for now. Someone has to get to work to wait for the Yule buffet to begin.

Nuclear Politics In Ottawa II

Update of Hilarious Consequence: haha-ahahaha-haha-(cough)-hahah-(cough, gasp, cough)-haha-(falls on floor, cough, wheeze)-haha-ha-ha…ha…

This is getting weirder. Apparently the loyal Harper-appointee who was not so well experienced quit so was used by other loyal-Harperites when the failings of Liberal-appointees were not, you know, sufficiently fail-y. And how do the Harper-ites use their own? Blame him!

Michael Burns told The Globe and Mail he submitted his resignation as chair of the Crown corporation on Nov. 29, before the medical isotope crisis stemming from the Chalk River shutdown became public. His departure was announced last Friday with no explanation, but was soon linked by a key cabinet minister to the Chalk River situation. “I was quite taken aback two weeks later when I heard my resignation had been accepted by the Prime Minister in the midst of the crisis,” Mr. Burns said.

Health Minister Tony Clement has since connected leadership changes at AECL, including the replacement of Mr. Burns, a Vancouver energy executive and onetime Tory fundraiser, as well as the appointment of a new CEO, with the need to give the organization better management. “Well, maybe they do [need better management],” Mr. Burns shot back. “But this is a clumsy piece of political opportunism. If they’re going to do it, they could do it with a little more skill.”

I am sure our rural overlords understand why this is someone else’s fault. That’s what makes having overlords so great.

Craft Or Kraphtt: Sam Adams Scotch Ale, Boston Beer, Mass

Stan was rightly giving me grief the other day or at least a lesson in life when I spoke of the Sam Adams line of beers. I didn’t mean to be mean and I am a delicate flower in the face of such dressings down – but, as you all know, I am working with what I am thinking about beer pricing and value. To that end, I’ve suggested five general categories of beer quality. What is the goal of the five point scale? I suppose it is as useful as a Top 25 Brewers list or using the numbers 1 to 10 to rate a beer: it is a means to give order to things. And it is supposed to give order based on deeds not claims – sure, subjectively (as that is the essence of the experience of beer) but not to bash as I live in a post-sticks-and-stones universe. Further, taking up the challenge of Matt at Rutgers, I drove into another country and bought up not six not eight but seven different Boston Beer brews to make sure I had a clue.

Scotch ale is something one would think is very important to a Scot yet it is neither the national drink or the other national drink. There are plenty of examples in the archives and they share that sweet, toast and smoke malts the style is known for. Surely a nod to style that is otherwise defective can send a beer teetering from craft down into kraphtt, no? So – what with this one, 5.4% with a best by date of April 2008? If smell alone could win the day (and who amongst us has not thought that thought before?) this one would surely stand proud as craft with the deep apple butter aroma it gives off. Chestnut ale under a rocky lacing tan head, goes down in a rich wave of sweet malt (butterscotch, pear, apple butter, licorice, and maybe even blackcurrent) tempered by the burnt toastiness of blackened malt with a hint of twiggy hops, perhaps Fuggles, in the end. A lovely brew. “Tha’s a braw bricht brew the noo!” Oor Wullie would say…if he ever grew up to be old enough to try one.

A solid effort and one that makes me offset the same brewer’s white ale over there on the other side of line between craft and what is not quite craft. And, as part of a variety twelve pack for 14.99, great value. 19/20 BAers agree.