Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Free Range Cats

Accoring to the WaPo I am a bad pet owner, because my cat runs as wild as the spring breeze. In, out, in, out, in, out, halfway-in, halfway-out, in, out AND she nevers shuts the door! ..... bitch
(if you would like to learn more about the fearsome creature pictured, read about him here)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Richmond Love & Strawberry Beer

- More love for Richmond and the VMFA! Haven't yet seen the Picasso exhibit (still waiting for the lines to die down) but will make sure to appreciate the non-european offerings in the meantime.

- The weather has been fantastic lately, and for some reson that always conicides with great times with friends. Hiked Old Rag on saturday and then celebrated the wife's birthday the following morning (Happy Birthday!) with a pancake party. She has worked incredibly hard this past year and I have a good feeling it is going to pay off in a big way. As a pre-birthday present I purchased a 6er of Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager, and they aren't lying!It tastes like strawberries, almost too much so, and is much sweeter than expected. But she likes it and thats all that matters. I have always been impressed with Abita's brews (i think its their spring water) and this hits the spot while yearning for warmer weather.

- And lastly, I found this fantastic stop motion video of the ENTIRE APPALACHIAN TRAIL! As an avid hiker myself and someone who has through-hiking the AT on their bucket list, I cannot begin to express how this video makes me feel. It alos doesnt hurt the the creator is a fellow Richmonder and VCU Alum. Lets all help cheer on the Rams against USC tonight!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Fall of Man

Watson, everyone's new favorite super-computer, is a cheater! I just wanted to get that off my chest. What are the odds that Watson's very first box selection (the 3rd of the game, iirc) was the daily double? Well that's exactly how it played out and that's when I knew this was not going to be a victory for human-kind, though I suppose technically man created Watson so any outcome would be ruled favorable. It is remarkable to see how well IBM has done creating a Jeopardy Juggernaut, but even more amazing is how far they have to go. Watson does not have a microphone and has no way of reacting to incorrect human responses. And even if he did, his algorithms are designed as such to create only one "real" answer. I noticed on many of the art questions that the secondary and tertiary responses were source information such as the name of the artist or museum of the work, which wouldn't help in this situation.

I also thought Watson's change of strategy between rounds, from navigating the board horizontally across categories to a more random selection before settling into a vertical approach in the second round was peculiar and a bit transparent. The super-computer was clearly searching for the daily doubles, found them successfully and then went to auto-pilot with a comfortable lead. Why does the computer take its foot off the gas pedal? The trick to stumping Watson is clearly in our complex understanding of the language, such as referring to passages in books to identify the character or through the association of two seemingly separate facts. I would also be interested in how it would compete in the more abstract word-play categories like anagrams, crossword puzzle clues and poetry/literary references. All in all though, I thought Jeopardy was a great platform to debut the next step in artificial intelligence and enjoyed a show that I have not watched in some time.

I didn't get to see the last episode of man vs. machine, (same old same old i gathered) because I was enjoying Brooklyn Brewery's East India Pale Ale with my in-laws. This name conjures up thoughts of super-hop and bitterness that should make your face pucker, but i found this brew didn't live up to it's name at all. It tastes much lighter than other IPAs, dominated with pineapple-orange citrus undertones and a sweet, mild hoppiness with just a bitter hint (pine??) at the end. The aroma was nothing special, and was the first signal I wasn't going to get what I expected... a slap in the face!! I wouldn't turn this brew down, but now i know what to expect (and not expect) from Brooklyn's tame offering. I would suggest a change in the name though to avoid future confusion, perhaps defining it as an American Ale or a Not-so-Pale Ale would be better suited.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Pyramid of Updates

I called the resignation of Mubarak 10 days ago (no proof available or necessary) and never thought the Egyptian people were backing down. They cancelled a National soccer game for christ's sake, you had to know they meant business! News continued to leak out and the speculation began that the Mubaraks were re-positioning themselves financially. Then Marketplace ran their story last night, these guys are good and always on point, and now it looks like my assertion is correct.

In other news...

- A professional football player wants to weigh more than me, how dare he! In all seriousness, Banks was electrifying last season and really should beef up. let the weight watch begin!

- Jim Webb is throwing in the towel. Not saying I wouldn't have voted for him if I knew he was going to be one-and-done, but its still very disappointing. A veteran against the Bush Wars is always good to have in your quiver.

- Psyched for the 2011 Bonnaroo line-up to be announced next tuesday, 2/15!! It's the 10th Anniversary of the festival and, not having gone to the last two, dont think I can miss this one.

In beer news...

- Picked up a sixer of Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball Ale last night for myself and FIL. It poured a lot darker than I had expected (I was thinking IPA) and was a bit rough (hairy?!?), at 9% ABV that's what you are in for. Tasted rich and earthy like tobacco, dark barley or a really un-sweet molasses. It felt almost gummy in my mouth, perhaps due to the taste. The aroma was far better than what hit your tongue, which is telling sign of this ale's bitterness.

- I had a much easier drink for a Birthday lunch yesterday at The Backyard, Blue Mountain Brewery's Lights Out Holiday Ale. There is nothing really celebratory about this brew, besides the 7% ABV. The head was surprisingly thin and a not your usual frothy white, but rather a toasty tan. The flavor is very mild, dominated by malt and hints of caramel. Really couldn't pick out any "holiday spices" or fruitiness that define so many of these brews. Though in comparison to the Eyeball, this went down like a dream. Nothing not to like here and I am really happy i got it on one of the last kegs of the season!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Annual 2 Year Update!

WOW! So it's been awhile hasn't it? You would have to assume that after starting a blog, then re-styling it as a beer blog and then abandoning it; that I had quit drinking. Not the case. AT ALL! I am just terribly unmotivated in expressing myself and/or cannot care in the least about you the reader (thanks btw, for sticking around).

A lot can happen in 2 years, even for a low-key guy like myself. Lets stroll down memory lane (cue the flashback music):

- 11 weddings and a Funeral, one of them was mine and it was the greatest day of my life.
- Got a cat
- bought 2 bikes
- returned to Mexico (for the honeymoon)
- skied the best East Coast winter of my life (its all downhill from here)
- went to OBX for the first time (whats all the fuss?)
- my job was sending me to the phillipines...
- quit that for a REAL job with real benefits!
- biked from rva to cville
- broke my nose, allegedly, at a wedding
- replaced the motor in my car :(
- hung out at the lake.... a lot
- watched my dad beat cancer.... twice
- thought about going back to school
- river rafted wild and wonderful west va
- bought a subaru
- biked douthat (it aint flat)
- saw a black bear hiking
- went to ZERO bonnaroos
- saw Phish for the first time
- saw TV on the radio
- saw Jenny Lewis
- saw Wilco end their 18 year richmond hiatus

Of course there is tons more, but these are the highlights. See you again in 2 years!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mendocino Blue Heron Pale Ale

I have been sampling a lot of Mendocino thanks to a killer sale at Whole Foods the past month. First up on the docket is this upstate New York brewery's Blue Heron Pale Ale. The label again does not list an alcohol content (must be a ny thing), but it does offer a nice little description of the brew: "Blue Heron Pale Ale, created in 1985, was an immediate hit with hop lovers. A golden ale, Blue Heron has a full body with a refreshing, distinctive, hop character. Blue Heron leaves a fresh, clean, hoppy aftertaste. This ale is made with pale malted barley, whole hops, and our special yeast and water." This six-pack cost me a $6.99 again at a very affordable 1.16 each (same as my last and coincidentally first review).

The glass fills with a thick head white head (just like in cartoons) and a semi-lucid golden ale. Now pale ale's are my personal favorite, so this is where I will probably be at my pickiest. I pick up the faint scent of citrus and hops, but not nearly what I expected. The taste is smooth but not as hoppy as I would like with more of a cereal presence and leaves a mildly bitter and salty aftertaste. The head has diminished rapidly leaving a little "frost" on my glass and the temp change isn't doing much, though I do like my PAs cold. I would label this a low carbonated light medium-body ale.

The Blue Heron is not bad, nor what I expected. Seems to leave some room for improvement, maybe focusing it's taste and pairing it better with the aroma. I'd drink it again and won't stop buying it on sale.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!!

Today we honor the Patron Saint of Ireland, whom if history is correct, was a leprechaun who rid the emerald isle of snakes and was constantly drinking guinness and hoarding treasure at the end of rainbows.

You would think I think i would maybe try to squeeze a Guinness Stout review in today, but it aint happening. No over analysis today on the holiest of holy days. (Quick Review: give me a guinness anytime, anywhere. There's never an unwelcome moment for a tall creamy irish stout).

I went to New Orleans last weekend and it was fantastic, tried Abitas I had never seen in VA (including one you would swear is bud light and the always elusive Turbo Dog) and some Dixie brews i regrettably didn't record. Anyways, just wanted to wish everyone a a great Saint Patrick's Day (and good luck to any team but duke in the tourney).