Archive for September, 2014

Notes On The Occasion of My 40th Birthday

Posted in life with tags , on September 15, 2014 by cueball

I’ve been trying to think of some deep and considered advice I could give to whomever reads this as I officially pass the point where the end is closer to the beginning.  Most of what I wrote (this is not the first draft) are the same bromides you can read in the better greeting cards.  So here it goes. By the way, since I woke up this morning the line from Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage”, “The lunatic is on the grass,” has been flowing through my mind.  Not the whole song.  Just that one line.  Anyway

Find that one thing you love and do it.  If you can do it for money that’s great.  If you can’t do it for money, do it anyway.  Have things in your life that give you pleasure and that you make time to do not just find time to do.  You need something that takes your mind from the griminess of the real world or at the very least puts in perspective and helps it make sense in your mind.

It is OK to be a selfish asshole on occasion.  This is a hard thing for a lot of people to learn.  You are taught from an early age to not be selfish and to think of others before yourself.  At some point in your life you will have to walk your own path and many people around you won’t understand it. Learning how to say no is a very important and underrated skill.  It will keep you from going down a lot of dead end roads.

Find a job where the people you work for don’t think paying you means they own you.  Especially when you are younger, you will have jobs where you are low man in the pecking order and sometimes people will treat you like you are sub-human.  Leave those jobs as soon as you can.  Life is too short to deal with jackasses like that.

Now, after you have done all that selfish stuff to find your happiness, remember you still have to pay rent and put food on the table. That means there will be times you have to suck it the hell up and do what you have to do and work where you have to work.  Just make sure you give yourself a plan to get in and to get out of the situation as quickly as possible.

Speaking of plans, you don’t need a step by step plan for your life.  Mostly, because life will get in the way of that plan and blow it up, also, what do you do once you reach the end point of your life’s plan?  You do however need goals and you need to stay mindful of your decisions and how they affect achieving those goals.  Some people work great with plans, some don’t. For those that don’t (like me) two goals are all you need:  Where do I want to live and how do I want to live.  Once you figure those things out, you’ll fill in the details along the way as long as you stay mindful of all the decisions you make and how they point you in those two directions.

Finally, whenever you are about to use the bathroom, always, always, always check to make sure there is enough toilet paper before you sit down.

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The One Where I Babel About Manhattan (the television show)

Posted in television with tags , , , , , , , on September 2, 2014 by cueball

For most of us on a daily basis, we have a choice between telling the truth and telling lie.  Most of us choose to tell the truth because we have been taught that it is the right thing to do and it is easier to remember then the lie.  There is a new show this summer that shows the effects of having that choice taken from you and being forced to lie in almost all situations. 

Manh(A)ttan is one of the best new shows of this summer and one of the shows no one knows anything about.  Unlike the best show of the summer, The Honorable Woman, it doesn’t have a movie star as its draw like Maggie Gyllenhaal. The roster of Manhattan is made up of a bunch of “that guys” and role players acting their collective asses off in each scene. It does not have the cache of being on The Sundance Channel. It is the second show produced for WGN, the Chicago superstation. If this show was on HBO, AMC, or even SYFY, it would be the talk of the whole television/entertainment internet. 

What has really drawn me into the show is how the pressures of being part of the Manhattan Project effects the scientists, soldiers, and their wives.  The first thing I noticed was these characters drink a lot.  As the show has gone along, it became obvious the drinking and the sex are “symptoms” of the pressures of the jobs and the pressures of the continuous lies the characters are forced to tell.  Everything about this last episode highlights how in certain situations the greater good is served by lies and not by the truth.  Not only lies to the public, but lies to everyone you know.

Dr. Frank Winter is the main character and the lead scientist of one of the teams working on the project.  In this episode he assigns one of his junior scientists, Fritz Fedowitz, the task involving figuring out the best metal to use for an atomic bomb.  Fritz makes a mistake and basically swallows half of the world’s supply of plutonium.  Because we now know the effects of ingesting the most radioactive substance on Earth means Fritz is going to waste away and die over the course of the rest of the season.  Frank also knows this and in trying to get Fritz the medical help he is going to need, he finds out the medical services they are provided are a sham to keep all of these people from truly knowing how dangerous the things they are doing are.  At the end of the episode, Frank is given a choice, expose the farce of the medical situation or not. The rub is if the exposes the farce, the German atomic bomb project will move even farther ahead of their American counterparts.  What is the right thing? Tell the truth to help your friends or lie to benefit the greater good of the war effort?

It is not only lying to the public that is effecting Frank, it is the fact that he has to lie to his wife Liza who is a brilliant scientist in her own right.  Liza is a botanist who has noticed the flowers and honey bees she has grown dying mysteriously.  Liza is close to figuring out what the scientists are actually working on, but Frank tells her to stop before she figures out the truth.  John Benjamin Hickey and Olivia Williams play the hell out of this scene.  The pain on Frank’s face for not only having to lie to Liza, but to also have to ask her to stop using her brain and her skills to protect the lie, is wrenching.  Equally impressive is the confusion and simmering anger at what Frank is doing on Liza’s face.

The mystery of this show is not how the Manhattan Project ends.  The mystery is how the process effects the people involved.  How does lying to everyone you know and work with at all times change you?  How does working with plutonium and creating atomic explosions effect you? 

Sierra Nevada Flipside (2014) Red IPA with Bush’s Black Bean Tortilla Chili

Posted in beer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2014 by cueball

The recipe

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Black Bean Chili

This is a simple chili recipe from Bush’s Beans.  It takes about an hour with prep to cook and serve.  It can be a bit spicy with the 2 tablespoons of chili powder and ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  You can take some of the heat off just by cutting the cayenne or cutting back on the chili powder, but that’s why you serve it with sour cream.  Here is the link to the complete recipe.

The beer

I look forward to the Fall and Winter because they are my favorite seasonal beer times of the year.  All three of the seasonals I look forward to every year from Sierra Nevada, Celebration, Ruthless Rye, and Flipside, are Fall and Winter beers.  This is the Flipside time of year, so I decided to see how this would pair with the chili. First, a little about Flipside. 

As with every beer that Sierra Nevada puts out, it is very well done.  Flipside pours a nice clear dark copper color.  Piney and grassy hops aroma are evident immediately with a bit of a biscuity malt aroma in the background.  The taste starts off with the grassy and citrusy notes of the hops with very little alcohol heat and little to no evidence of the caramel or chocolate malts included in the recipe. It is pretty light on the tongue and actually provides a kind of refreshing taste.  It would be a pretty good sessionable beer if not for the 6.2% ABV. 

The pairing

I have learned through strenuous testing that I prefer brown and amber ales with spicy food, especially Mexican and Mexican inspired food.  I had hoped with the use of the darker malts, Flipside would go well with a chili.  It went OK.  My goal was for the caramel and chocolate malts would bring out the caramelized taste of the browned onions (I browned the onions longer than recipe instructs.  Going for depths of flavor.).  With little to no taste of the malts I was targeting, this did not work out as well as I had hoped.  However, if your pallet does not lean towards the darker malts and caramelization tastes as mine does it, you will probably enjoy it a bit more.

An idea to make this recipe a little more beer friendly is simply to add beer to the recipe. I would probably use a more floral/citrusy hoppy pale ale to bring out more of the cumin flavors.   If you look at the recipe the only liquid included in the ingredients comes from the liquid the canned corn comes with.  You could drain the corn and instead use about a half to a full cup of room temperature beer in its stead.  That would probably improve the flavor as well as eliminate some of the salt from the recipe. 

The conclusion

In the end this is a good simple and quick recipe and a good high quality beer that just did not work together (Sounds like most of my dating relationships).  This is a recipe that I would recommend pairing with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Lonerider Peacemaker Pale Ale, or Foothills Brewing Pilot Mountain Pale Ale