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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The country is moving forward, and it’s time for anti-capitalist laws like the Bergen County blue laws to be repealed permanently.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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Halloween Should Always Be Saturday

With Hurricane Sandy forcing many towns in the northeast to postpone Halloween, it seems worth pondering a permanent change. Halloween’s connection to All Saints’ Day or a particular religious event is really only academic. Functionally, the holiday would make a lot more sense for everyone if it occurred on Saturday.

 

I’d suggest the last Saturday in October would be the best time to celebrate, although timing it with the first Saturday in November and the changing of the clocks could work too. Many parties and celebrations take place on the weekend anyway so why not do the same with the whole holiday? Parents that work either have to take off or take their children trick or treating after they get home from work when it’s already dark out in most of the country. More people would be home to give out candy as well, and if families prefer a different celebration, organizing or attending a party is much easier on a Saturday afternoon.

October 31st, 2012 by Ceetar in life
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Of Course, A Horse

The human mind fascinates me.  It has the ability to string together trains of thought in order to connect things that are seemingly completely unrelated and in no way similar.  Due to external stimuli an innocent phrase can stimulate memories and senses that haven’t been thought about or experienced in decades.

 

Try walking back into your high school or another spot you spent a lot of time when you were younger. The memories that flood back are things you probably haven’t even though about since you were there.  A billboard may remind you of a paper you wrote for English class that got hung up in praise, reminding you of the work and effort you put into it. A bank of lockers may remind you of a girl or guy you had a crush on and even though you can’t remember their last name you remember the color of their eyes and the way they wore their hair 20 years ago.

 

Those are ordinary, visual, connections. Today I sloshed some coffee out of my cup as I was retrieving it from the cup holder as I got out of the car.  The scalding liquid splashed a little on my hand, burning me, and I muttered “of course” to myself in a woe-is-me belief that misfortune was coming for me and of course I burned myself on my coffee.  My next thought was immediately, “no one can talk to a horse of course. That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed.” This song was complete with the lyrics and melody and a faint memory of the black and white TV show intro that I used to watch when I was little on Nick at Nite but probably haven’t seen in 10 years.

 

I probably say ‘of course’, or hear it said, multiple times every day and it doesn’t trigger this memory.  So what was so special about this one time that my mind formed this instant connection from a phrase muttered off-hand to myself to a TV show that was seemingly the furthest thing from my mind? I’ve got a couple of ideas.  Earlier in the day I had cause to come up with a random word, and the word I chose was zebra.  The horse on Mr. Ed was actually a zebra due to training issues with the original horse cast to play the role.  This seems like a tenuous connection at best, but was the random phrase enough to bump Mr. Ed higher up in my consciousness in order to latch onto the “of course” I uttered later? Perhaps. Another possibility could be that horses were on my mind due to a mention of cavalry in battle in the audio book I was listening to that morning.  They were actually faerie horses, but horses are horses after all.  Perhaps that’s what bridged the connection.

 

I’m always fascinated by these “Where’d that come from?!” moments our brains toss our way.  This one in particular had me smirking in amusement, and now I have the urge to watch an episode of a 1960s television show.

 
 

October 25th, 2012 by Ceetar in life, Television and Movies
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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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Beer Ice Cream

Here’s a link I saw about beer ice cream. It’s the perfect summer treat.  There are a couple of professional pints, but also some tips to do it yourself.  None of the places mentioned are local to New York or New Jersey, but I’m sure someone out there must be mixing beer and ice cream this summer.

 

I’ve got an ice cream maker, so this is definitely something I’m going to give a try at one point this summer.  One thing I do like to do is use beer in milkshakes. Adding a nice rich stout to some ice cream (And some whiskey if you like) makes a delicious treat.  The roasted, bitter taste of the beer goes very well with the sweet cream.  It’s like an Irish Car Bomb Milk Shake.  Adding Bailey’s seems redundant here since it’s basically cream and whiskey, but feel free to add it in if you feel like it’s not a true car bomb without.

 

July 2nd, 2012 by Ceetar in Beer, Food, Uncategorized
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Beer Aisle Review: Fairway Woodland Park

Fairway is a grocery store orginating in New York City but recently has expanded to the suburbs.  From Wikipedia: “Fairway Market’s stores balance their presentation of everyday must-have staples, signature Fairway brand items, specialty foods and popular consumer brands”.   The newest one just opened in Woodland Park, NJ, which is really close to where I work.  I noticed they were including a beer, wine and spirits section so naturally I was intrigued.  I’ve always been a fan of Fairway, finding they often have fun and interesting things as well as the staples I need.  So let’s see how their beer selection holds up.

 

This is the main aisle.  The entire aisle is beer except for the 2-3 sections you can see in the forefront.  I’d describe the section is good but not great.  You won’t walk away empty handed, but nothing will wow you.   You’ve got some of the locals, but not that many, and not the smaller ones.  They had a pretty good selection of the belgians, particularly the single bottles.  The Chimay’s and the Lindemans were there, as well as most of the other common ones.  Nothing rare or unique, but maybe that’s fine for a grocery store.

It’s certainly not a small display.   Beer has a pretty good representation and there should be a variety for every beer drinker.   That’s probably perfect for a beer selection in a grocery store, a nice selection that everyone will be able to grab a 6-pack of something they want to drink.  They have a decent amount of the beer in the fridge for the crowd that is bringing it directly to the party.  It’d be nice to see some more local flavor, but for now I’d give this store a solid B rating.

June 11th, 2012 by Ceetar in Beer, Uncategorized
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