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EuroTrip: Amsterdam Day One

That's quite a few bikes!

We arrived in Amsterdam on Friday afternoon, after taking a Red Eye from New York.   First impression: Yowzah that’s a lot of bikes!

 

Amsterdam is a pretty cool city.  We started the afternoon after checking in by walking around the place and checking out the canals.  It was a little quiet at first, once we walked away from the transit hub at Centraal Station near where we were staying.  Friday afternoon is not a place you expect to be bustling with people necessarily, but when you’re used to New York City quiet streets in the middle of the day are odd.

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October 4th, 2012 by Ceetar in Beer, Breweries, life, travel, Uncategorized
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Philadelphia 2nd Street Festival: Doing Beer Right

If there is one thing Philadelphia does right (and yes, there might only be one thing) it’s beer.  They’ve got a great beer scene, and it was very evident to me recently when I was downtown for the 2nd Street Festival last week.

 

There was a lot of good beer available when I walked the street.  Sly Fox was one of the highlights, I had a Pikeland Pils while I walked around in the blistering heat.  There was plenty of other beer there as well, plus other alcohols too.

 

Another highlight was the multitude of shaded beer tents with dedicated beer areas out of the sun.  They were basically outdoor bars that offered the ability to basically step away from the street fair and into a beer area to relax a bit.  It’s great that the city can make the street into an outdoor festival and include beer and drinking; something you don’t see everywhere.  If it wasn’t so blistering hot last weekend, I would’ve stuck around even longer to enjoy some other brews.

August 10th, 2012 by Ceetar in Beer, travel
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Las Vegas Is For Everyone: Kids

photo by CeetarLast time I was in Las Vegas I had a discussion with a friend, and then again with my mother when I returned, about whether or not Las Vegas is a place for everyone.  I love Vegas, I think it’s a great thrill all around, and I contend that it really is a place just about anyone can have fun.

 

Can kids have fun in Las Vegas?  Certainly.  Obviously the trip is not going to be a gambling one, or a nightlife one, but that’s okay.  I think people underestimate how much kids loves looking at big, flashy, grandiose things; think about how much most kids love trucks and skyscrapers and big bird.  These large things seem even more massive through the eyes of a child.  Depending on who you bring with you, it’s still possible to get in some gambling or other adult activities.  Maybe you go with another couple and take turns baby-sitting, or bring the grandparents.  Maybe one parent takes the kids to dinner while the other spends a couple of hours at the poker table.  There’s plenty of areas to compromise to accomplish everything you want to do while you’re out there.

 

Translate that to the over-indulgent culture of Las Vegas and you get plenty of sights to see that kids will get a kick out of.  The fountains at the Bellagio or the Volcano at the Mirage.  The half-size Eiffel Tower or the soon to be built observation wheels.  Giant chocolate fountains, amazingly decorated lobbies, expansive buffet tables, flashy neon lights, characters from movies and cartoons on every corner, and pirate shows.  That’s all without even mentioning the dozens of kid-friendly shows from Cirque Du Soleil to Penn and Teller.

 

You can’t forget the day trips either.  There are bus trips if you don’t feel like driving, but Las Vegas is within reach of Death Valley, The Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon.  All three places are family friendly locations and landmarks worth seeing.  They contain historical and cultural value but are also cool places to visit.  There are other interesting places as well closer to the strip like Red Rock Canyon, and Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. There are art galleries and museums all over the place.

 

Kids can certainly have fun in Las Vegas, and Las Vegas has things to offer beyond what it’s typically known for.  Don’t let kids keep you from a Vegas vacation if that’s what you have your heart set on.  There are plenty of opportunities for a child to have a very memorable vacation there.

 

July 26th, 2012 by Ceetar in life, travel, Uncategorized
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Wedtoberfest 2.0 and Strawberry NieuwenWeiss

I ordered supplies for my next batches of beer.  It’s a little later than I planned to start my Oktoberfest, but it’ll still be ready when I return from the real Oktoberfest.  I tweaked the recipe slightly, hoping to improve it a little and make it a little more universally liked.

 

The second beer I’m going to make is a strawberry weissbier that I want to name for New York Mets outfield Kirk Nieuwenhuis.   I’m totally winging it on this recipe, but I think it’ll turn out pretty good.

June 6th, 2012 by Ceetar in baseball, Beer, life, Uncategorized
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First Mensiversary Gifts

It’s fun to celebrate marriage mensiversaries.  Rather than make note of it every year, we’ve decided to make note of it every month.   This isn’t that abnormal really, it’s just like having a regularly scheduled date night.  It’s an excuse to take time out to focus on your spouse and mark it in some way of celebration.  Nothing we do is hugely involved or deeply complicated.  We simply make a point to do something out of the ordinary or special to celebrate our marriage.  We try to do something different every month, but as the months mount it might be hard to keep that up.

 

Our first mensiversary snuck up on us pretty fast.  It’s actually what prompted us to celebrate.  I imagine noting the first month of marriage is something most couples notice, and we were no different.  Still basking in post-wedding bliss we decided it was a fun tradition to start.  Two weeks in Hawaii and Halloween being the first weekend we were back our first month was on us before we’d even really settled back to normal.  We decided to get fancy burgers from Bobby’s Burger Palace nearby in Paramus and decided the first mensiversary gift was gourmet hamburgers.

 

I’ve written about this before, but as time goes by I’m going to try to document every month’s moment.  Some are silly and some are born of convenience, but the purpose is always the same; recognize and remember our wonderful marriage.

May 22nd, 2012 by Ceetar in dinner, Food, life, marriage, mensiversary
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Craft Beer On Airplanes

I wrote here about catering halls being the ‘final frontier’ of craft beer.  I may have been wrong.   One such place was brought to my attention by it’s venture into craft beer; airplanes.

 

Airplanes are not typically places I’m looking to have a drink.  The pressure and altitude tends to bother me more than most, and I think alcohol would only make that worse.  Still, plenty of people like an adult beverage on a flight and it’s rare that you have any real options.  Jet Blue has changed that as they now offer Brooklyn Summer Ale aboard flights.  I think that’s awesome.  This is a change that seems to be a byproduct of the increase in canning of craft beer, and it’s a welcome one.

 

So I suggest that when you jet off to summer vacation you fly Jet Blue and have a Brooklyn Summer Ale.  The perfect way to start a trip.

May 4th, 2012 by Ceetar in Beer, life, travel
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A Sign Of Age

One sign of age is noting what teenagers these days would not get. You noticed these more and more as you get older I imagine. 

I was struck by a Met Life ad recently, in which Lucy from Peanuts suggested that insurance should be five cents to which the guy responded, not everything can be five cents.  I started to wonder if kids these days would get the reference.  Peanuts still runs in most newspapers, but who really gets newspapers anymore, and do kids read the funnies?  It seems like a timeless classic, but I was struck with the thought that it just might not be.  It wouldn’t be the first time. If you’re a teenager do you/did you get it without looking it up?  (Try “Lucy, Peanuts, five cents”) If you’ve got a teenage kid, ask them if they get it.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iin3EVfN0Jc

 

April 12th, 2012 by Ceetar in life, Television and Movies, Uncategorized
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The Worst Cirque Du Soleil Show Ever

Skip This ShowI foolishly bought tickets to Cirque Du Soleil’s Criss Angel Believe while in Las Vegas without reading any reviews.  I figured that the floor value of a Cirque show was going to be decent and that it would pair very nicely with magic and Criss Angel.

 

I was wrong.

 

First the stuff that didn’t belong at all; the crude and predictable poop jokes.   I can appreciate a good poop joke as much as the next guy when it’s appropriate, but that’s not what I was looking for in Believe.  The jokes themselves weren’t even clever, they were typical Beavis and Butthead “haha, #2..ahaha” stuff.

 

I suspect this was probably intended as some kind of comic relief in between illusion, but the acts were so bland and commonplace that it left you unfulfilled.  To follow that up with a crude joke is not entertainment.  Most of Angel’s tricks were the same stuff you can see in virtually any magic act on (or off) the Strip.  Whether that’s creating birds from air, predicting three things the audience is going to say on a piece of paper supposedly locked up before hand, or sawing someone in half.

 

If you’re thinking the show could’ve been saved by some high-flying Cirque Du Soleil acrobatic stunts, don’t hold your breath.  There was virtually none, and very little of what there was was above and beyond the theatrics you get in a normal magician’s act.  There are a couple of explosions/flashy effects and a monster or two that for some reason Criss Angel and company needs to fight.  That’s basically the extent of the Cirque involvement.

 

To make it worse Criss Angel spent a good amount of the eighty minutes promoting his own products.  He gave away a magic kit, he boasted about one of his Youtube videos, showed off his motorcycles, showed clips of Mindfreak and even begged the audience to tweet at him.   All in all it was a pretty disappointing show; take a hint and see Penn & Teller.

February 27th, 2012 by Ceetar in life
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Heightened Senses

Lately I’ve noticed that some of my senses seem to be heightened.  Not super-powers heightened (Not yet anyway, crossing my fingers there) but just picking up on things I normally don’t notice.  Specifically my sense of smell has picked up.  I’m now noticing the scents around me much clearer than I used to whether it’s a steeping cup of tea, or the aroma of my dinner.

 

I’m also seemingly noticing colors more sharply too.  I especially noticed this during Christmas, when the Christmas lights just seemed to be brighter and crisper.   I’m pretty sure my eyesight hasn’t actually gotten better, especially since over the past year I’ve noticed one or two of those random black floaters in my vision occasionally.

 

Hearing is another sense that I’m noticing has changed.  Particularly that I’m picking up on more nuance within things.  This can be as simple as a whirl of a print spool in the background, or background percussion on a music track.

 

Taste is the easy one.  Most peoples taste buds change, and I heard somewhere every seven or so years is common.  I’ve definitely gone from a very very picky eater as a kid to pretty much being able to find enjoyable food in just about any setting.

 

As I was not bitten by a radioactive spider or operated on by Dr. Strange, something else must be happening.  My theory is that it’s the experience of age giving me a broader appreciation of the world around me.  It’s not so much that I’ve gotten super powers, but that I appreciate the nuance and know to look for it.  I know there’s nice background tracks in good songs, that the overall color scheme and constrast in Christmas lights makes an enjoyable display.  I recognize and identify more scents as being specific to something else I enjoy, such as a cup of tea.   I take note of that scent, and that information, and use it to further my enjoyment rather than letting it passively go in one nostril and out the other so to speak.  Enough positive reinforcement in my brain associated with a smell, or a sound or image, makes me take a more active notice of that sense and think “Hey, I like this.”

February 3rd, 2012 by Ceetar in Food, life, Uncategorized
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The World Is Full of Idiots

It’s perfectly acceptable to notice that the world is full of idiots, and to doubt the words or suggestions of some of them even if they are considered an expert.  This goes for doctors and lawyers as well as baristas and bartenders.

 

What’s _not_ acceptable is to identify these idiots but then presume to think that you know better than they do without any official training or education as to the subject matter.

December 19th, 2011 by Ceetar in life
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