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Bergen County Blue Laws: Make Them Permanent

These past two Sundays, you’ve been able to shop in New Jersey. This includes Paramus, despite additional town bans on Sunday shopping. They tried to fight the temporary lifting of the blue laws, but were denied.  Kudos to County Executive Kathleen A. Donovan for requesting the lifting of the ban, Governor Christie for agreeing and for being a supporter of businesses open on Sunday, and for Judge Menelaos Toskos for denying Paramus’ aim to appeal it.

 

Now it’s time to make it permanent. There is some evidence that Christie has wanted to do so, and the number $65 million has been floated as additional sales tax revenue. In addition to the tax revenue is the work hours required to man shops on Sunday. With the economy and unemployment rates what they are, this would be a much needed boon.

 

The country is moving forward, and it’s time for anti-capitalist laws like the Bergen County blue laws to be repealed permanently. It only hurts local businesses, as in the 21st century shopping is not difficult. People can purchase pretty much anything online, or drive outside of the county to a different one, or to New York. This means extra unnecessary driving which is bad for the environment, bad for people that want to run a quick errand and bad in times of gas shortages. It means less revenue for New Jersey as a whole, and I could see where if the state and county made more money, tax-hikes could be avoided. It does create less traffic in Paramus and major routes through the county on Sunday, but that’s not much boon to travelers who have nowhere to go with everything closed. It also worsens crowds on Saturdays, when everyone that needs to shop is forced to do so. Supermarkets and other essential businesses that are allowed to open on Sundays are more crowded because shoppers do what they have to Saturday, leaving what they can do Sunday for Sunday. Opening businesses would create more total shoppers and cars and travelers, but it would spread it out over a longer period and across more shop as well.  It’s also unfair to residents who work Monday through Friday and follow the Jewish Sabbath on Saturdays.

 

I do feel for residents that live right next to the malls and busy shopping areas, but if you were really looking for a peaceful area one day a week isn’t doing it for you. It’s time to stop getting in the way of businesses and their freedom to operate in this county.

 

 

November 12th, 2012 by Ceetar in garden state, life, new jersey, new york, travel
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EuroTrip: Amsterdam Day Two

Our second day in Amsterdam started with a hop-on, hop-off Museum line canal cruise.  We rode the canal boat to the Van Gogh museum, enjoying the view and the automated audio guide along the way.  Between the hotel and the boat pick-up location we picked up coffee and liege waffles to eat.  This was our first encounter with the reluctance Europe has with the eat on the run mentality that’s so prevalent in New York.  We saw a shop with a display case of baked goods and figured that’d work, but the waiter seemed like he kept expecting us to sit and relax and kick our feet up.  Awkwardly, we departed with our goods.

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October 17th, 2012 by Ceetar in Beer, travel, Uncategorized
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Beer in Amsterdam: Arendsnest

There are many terrific places to drink beer in Amsterdam, and I was barely there long enough to sample very many of them, but one of the ones that really stood out was Arendsnest.  This is a beer ‘bar’  (they’re called cafes in Amsterdam) on a quiet street specializing in Dutch beers.  As of this posting Google maps is suggesting it’s closed, but I promise that’s not the case.

 

Arendsnest has quite a selection of beers written on chalkboards on the walls.  It seemed they had a decent bottle selection as well, and some of them looked liked they might be extremely local, sporting simple white paper labels that looked like the product of a small outfit, but alas there was no bottle list.

 

Now, it would’ve been helpful to have some styles listed next to the beers.  I’ve taken for granted how much I know about US beer sometimes, and being able to recognize beers and styles.  In Amsterdam I was barely able to pronounce most of the beers on this beer list.  I had three.

 

First I had an Ongelovige Thomas by Jopen.  It looks like that means Pagan, or unbeliever.  It’s listed as an American Strong Ale and at 10% ABV.  It struck me by the way it was listed as a limited release type beer, so I selected it.  It was good but not great, a little too strong on that intense alcohol taste for me.

 

For my second beer I selected an Xtreem Centennial by Bierbrouwerij De Eeem.  Much like I did at Brouwerij ‘t IJ I was drawn in by the hops name that I recognized.  This one was clearly an IPA.  This was probably the best beer I had in Amsterdam, although I’m clearly partial to India Pale Ales.  It had just the right amount of spicy bitterness and was a very well executed beer.

 

Shortly after I ordered that one, the guy next to me asked the bartender for advice and he happened to mention a rye ale.  I tend to really like rye beers, so I resolved to get a third beer, and for it to be the Den Dorstige Tijger by Ramses Bier.  It’s a cool name for a beer anyway, which translates to the thirsty tiger.  Of course, both untappd and ratebeer list it as an IPA, with no mention of rye so I must’ve have misunderstood.  I was particularly disappointed by this one anyway, which tasted pretty watery and weak to me with a sort of blah bitterness to it.

 

So that was Arendsnest, a very cool cafe in Amsterdam specializing in local beers.  In retrospect I could’ve chosen a better subset of beers, but I’m still glad to have checked the place out and recommend it for any beer fans heading to The Netherlands.

 

October 9th, 2012 by Ceetar in Beer, travel, Uncategorized
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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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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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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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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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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.

gasnossel

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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