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Good Gift Idea For A Homebrewer

Homebrewers like making beer.  It’s what they do.  Buying them a gift that plays to this hobby can be overwhelming, unless you’re working off a specific list, but where’s the fun in that?   You’re probably not going to just buy them a bag of grain, although I’m sure many homebrewers would appreciate a random specialty grain or just some extra normal malted barley.


I suggest the complete supplies for a full 5-gallon batch of beer.  There are many many recipe databases out there, and all it requires you to know is if the brewer is All-Grain, strictly extract, or extract with steeping.   There is, the Beer Recipator, Beersmith, or the recipe database.  Pick a recipe that you think you’ll both like, order the hops, grain and/or malt, and yeast, and have a fun and different present for the holidays.


Really, how could you go wrong with a present that’s both beer, and a hobby?   On top of that it’s an excuse to hang out together again in the near future, when the beer is ready for consumption.


Fyi to any friends/family that may be reading this:  This is not a hint.  I don’t get to brew (Extract with grains if you must know) often enough to really need my next beer picked out and waiting for me.

December 1st, 2011 by Ceetar in Beer, christmas, life
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The Last Modern Classic Movie

I watched the Back to the Future trilogy this weekend.  Great movies, and modern classics.  It got me thinking about those truly classic movies that people talk about, and quote and reference, forever.   Another good example is the Princess Bride.  In the latest Dresden Files novel by Jim Butcher, Harry references the classic quotes “Never start a land war in Asia, and never go against a Sicilian with death on the line”.


So what were the last classic movies?  The Matrix in 1999, Gladiator in 2000 both probably qualify.  If you’re willing to considered animated, which you probably should, I think Shrek in 2001 qualifies as a classic.  Finding Nemo is another one to consider from 2003.  I’d like to mention that Harry Dresden references The Matrix in the latest book as well.


I don’t count movies based on books.  The Lord of the Rings movies were great, but they were part of the a greater set of lore than just a movie.   Some of the comic book movies, like Spider Man, have been great but are part of something bigger.


Another movie, or movies, that I’m on the fence about is Kill Bill.  Great movie in my mind but I don’t think it has quite the mainstream staying power that a true classic would have.  Quentin Tarantino is a well known and famous director, but the violence and target audience make it more of a cult classic than a mainstream one.


I want to include Avatar, but even though it made so much money and everyone saw it it was more about special effects than it was about the story itself.  Without an interesting and captivating story, I don’t think a movie can count as a classic.


So that’s that.  I think you can make a very strong case that the ‘reigning modern classic’ is about a fish lost in the Pacific Ocean.

November 29th, 2011 by Ceetar in life, Television and Movies
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Smartest Parking Garage Ever

Ever turn into a parking garage only to be confused about the flow of traffic, and where all the empty spots are?  Ever think you found a great spot, only to find a Mini Cooper tucked into the spot you thought was empty?  Not if you’re in the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.


When you turn the corner, illuminated signs tell you how many empty spaces there are down each aisle.   That’s pretty helpful.  I hate turning down an aisle and finding nowhere to park at all.

Once you turn, lights on the ceiling above each space tell you whether or not a car is parked there.  Eliminates all need to hunt for a space and guess if there is one a little closer or not.  Simply pick the green light you like, drive there, and park.  The lights are pretty fast too.  I pulled out of the spot, turned into the aisle, and looked in my rear view mirror to see the previously red light had turned green again.

November 18th, 2011 by Ceetar in life, travel, Uncategorized
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Breaking News That’s Not Breaking News

Breaking news is supposed be news that’s suddenly occurring like a plane crash or unscheduled and still developing.  The term implies that the news is coming in as it’s being reported, something that’s becoming quicker and quicker in today’s social media society.


However you often see the term used for things that are not breaking news.  The other day the TV said, “Breaking: Congress to vote on jobs bill”.   A scheduled vote is not breaking news; it’s not a surprise or an unexpected twist in a story.  It’s possible to prepare a broadcast for this vote in advance, which makes it simply news.  People were discussing the vote, and the implications of the vote, well before I saw this on the television last night. 


Additionally, followup news stories to breaking news are no longer breaking news.   If President Obama announces a press conference in the afternoon for 8pm, that’s breaking news because it’s altered the daily schedule and no one was prepared for it previously.  When 8pm rolls around it’s no longer breaking news, it’s a followup story.  If the president says something that’s new, such as “We’re going to bomb Mordor”, then it becomes breaking news.  If he’s merely updating the status of an existing war, or discussing the progress of a bill, it’s not breaking news. 


The overuse of the term breaking news is an egotistic one.  The news media suggesting that their stories are so important that they preempt everything going on at that time is arrogance at it’s finest.  It’s also a boy who cried wolf scenario: artifically creating hype for non-critical stories lessens the impact of truly breaking news.  The story should create the hype, not the other way around.


Breaking news also implies that there is something new.  If you portray a story as breaking, it should be bringing the audience new information that’s developing in real time.  If you’re recapping something that’s been being discussed on the Internet for hours, you better be bringing something new to the discussion or clearing up rumors with hard facts.

October 12th, 2011 by Ceetar in life, Television and Movies
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Link: Goose Island Brewpub Review

A friend of mine visited the Goose Island brewpub in Chicago recently, one of those ‘must-visit’ places when you’re in Chicago.  Give it a read.


Interesting to note is that while the brewery was sold to Anheuser-Busch, not all the brewpubs were.  The brewpub ties in well with my last post about beer menus.  Obviously you expect a brewpub to have a solid one, but it looks like Goose Island goes above and beyond.   Okay, now I’m thirsty..

September 19th, 2011 by Ceetar in Beer, travel
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Verizon Fios’ Multi-Room DVR Is Not A Perk

Like many people, I switched from Cablevision to Verizon Fios, mainly because it was cheaper.  It _is_ cheaper and I’m getting more movie channels and a faster internet connection.  However, one of the main perks Verizon hypes is their multi-room DVR.  This allows you to record on one central unit, and watch it from any room in the house.  Sounds like a good deal, except..


How often do you really watch something on multiple tvs?  You may want to record something on the main television and watch it later in the evening in the bedroom as you’re falling asleep, but for the most part you watch something where you record it.  This  benefit is not worth the drawbacks.  Especially if you don’t have all HD televisions.  You’ll record that movie in HD, but what if you then want to watch it on the tiny 12 inch CRT television in the kitchen while cooking dinner?  It’s not uncommon for HD programs viewed in SD to have some of the edges of the program cut off. 


You cannot record on the other boxes.  Watching a movie in the basement, but getting sleepy and want to record the rest of it?  You have to walk back to them main box and record it from there.  This isn’t a huge deal, unless someone happens to be using that tv.  Do you want to be interrupted everytime your husband/wife/kids want to record something?  What’s mind-boggling to me is that I can grab my cellphone or go to the computer to record a show (And often the user interface is easier to use), but I cannot record from a box directly connected to the network.


The worst part about not being able to record from any box except the main Multi-Room DVR is that you cannot pause live TV.  Want to go grab a beer, use the bathroom, or answer the phone during the Mets game?  Better hurry, because there is no pausing or rewinding unless you’ve already set it to record.  You cannot rewind to see a replay, or a scene you missed because someone was talking to you from the other room. 


Verizon hypes the Multi-Room DVR, even runs offers that give you a free one for life, but it all feels like a scam to me.  Their website will even suggest it to you as the ‘best option’, duping you into thinking you’re getting a deal.  Truth of the matter is that it’s probably more hassel than help.

July 24th, 2011 by Ceetar in life
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Nine Month Mensiversary: Brunch

rainbowcakeSkipping around a bit; i posted earlier about my first month anniversary and celebrating it.  We’ve celebrated each month in some fashion, but I haven’t quite written them up yet.   Well this weekend was nine months and we celebrated with brunch. 

Brunch may not seem like a huge deal, but this was never about being a huge deal.  We’d been recommended this place, called The Bethwood, as having good brunch, and we had not been out for brunch together since we’d gotten married.  Sunday made for a perfect time to do so.  It was a lazy day, just hanging out with each other, eating too much food and relaxing.  A perfect lazy married Sunday. 

The Bethwood was very good; omelettes, waffles, a Viennese table, carved meats, pasta salads, fruits, vegetables, pastries and bagels and breads and cheeses and all sorts of wonderful foods.  We got there early, so it wasn’t that crowded yet.  They served a complimentary glass of champagne to start too.  This actually disappointed me; they chose a Verdi prosecco, which I felt was too sweet for a breakfast champagne.  Still tasted good with a little orange juice splashed in it though.

July 11th, 2011 by Ceetar in anniversary, Beer, Food, life, marriage
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Gassing up in New Jersey

Gas is cheaper in New Jersey. That’s always a thought whenever a New Yorker takes a trip to or through the state. Another point of interest is that there is no self-serve, so you never have to pump your own gas. However, this loses some of it’s appeal when you’re in a rush.


Sometimes I’d just rather get out and pump it myself. I don’t have to wait for the guy to come over and swipe my card. Especially if it’s crowded. I don’t have to wait while he go takes care of the next car that pulled in while my tank sits full for three minutes. I’ve been very tempted to get up and remove the nossel myself, especially when I’m in a hurry and just want to get out of there.

Another popular annoyance in New Jersey, at least North Jersey, is cash and credit prices. A growing number of gas stations are putting two prices on the big billboards; one for cash, and one for credit. Accustomed as I am to looking for the lowest price, and dismissing the rest as premium gas prices, I’ve been fooled before.

This creativity is getting around though. I saw a sign on Long Island advertising a price 20 cents cheaper in the same manner, with small print saying “with oil change”.

The best thing about self service gas is still that you don’t find an attendant with nothing better to do than squeegee your windshield with dirty water.

June 12th, 2009 by Ceetar in life, travel
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