Thursday, December 27, 2012

Considering the recent debates on gun laws and school safety in the United States, I looked up a few figures to aid us in our debates.  Feel free to use or abuse them as we move forward. 

Some of the data may surprise you.  For example, I expected accidental deaths to be a higher percentage of the totals among death of children due to firearms.

Number of Schools in the United States (2009-10 School Year)
Public: 98,817
Private: 33,366

Number of Teachers in the United States:
3.7 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) elementary and secondary school teachers in fall 2011

    This above information and additional data is available at the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Number of Gun-Related Deaths in the United States (2010 - excludes small percentage of deaths due to law enforcement)

All Ages
Total: 31,328. (Breakdown not provided at this source.)

Kids, Ages 1 to 14:                                      
Homicide: 208                    
Suicide: 81
Accidental Death: 62
Totals:* 369

Kids, Ages 15 to 19:
Homicide: 1,554
Suicide: 668
Accidental Death: 72
Totals:* 2,315

    The information above and additional data is available at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The data above came from a report compiling statistics on gun-related deaths from 1999 to 2010.

As you can see in the charts at the CDC link above, the rate of death by firearms relative to the population has overall been flat in the U.S., with the possible expception of the rates of death among teens (ages 15 to 19), which seems to have been dropping over the time period.

* Why the totals do not add up exactly, is not clear.


Merry Happy Christmahanukwaanzakkah

Monday, December 24, 2012

Just when Jay finally...finally...busts out the real science I was hoping he'd get to, I would like to take a pause in our raging, passionate, and actually engaging and well-informed gun discussion to wish everyone the Happiest, Merriest Christmahanukwaanzakkah.

Whomever you are here on this blog, be you contributor, author, guest, commenter, or stalker, Around the Keg wishes you and yours all the best.

Except trolls.

No, even trolls.  'Tis the season.

Love you all!  Arguing to ensue after the holiday reprieve.  So...Wednesday.


Today in poorly timed PR...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Moments ago National Rifle Assoc. Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre (dickhead, liar, fucking wing-nut) held a press conference regarding the recent mass shootings. 

LaPierre made a couple suggestions for combating violence in our schools, including: improved mental health treatment (good idea) and putting a cop in every school (maybe an OK idea, but my estimated cost $9.88 billion annually). 

Shorter LaPierre:  Please protect American kids from my target membership.

He also proposed a great new slogan, soon to come to a pro-NRA bumper sticker near you: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,”

Effective immediately, the new slogan will replace:  "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

LaPierre video here.

Making this the most poorly timed presser ever, another seemingly random shooting took place while LaPierre was speaking. 3 are dead. Details unknown.

News story link here.


My Slightly Informed Opinion on Gun Regulations

Where do we go from here? The regulations I propose below are what I think we should consider. I have not given much thought to what might already be in place or where it bumps up against the 2nd Amendment.

1) Personal Responsibility.
Having personally witnessed a great deal of stupidity when it comes to handling firearms, I have always thought we need strict penalties for irresponsible behavior. In the case of the Newtown shooting, the rifle used was purchased legally. As far as I know, there would be no penalties for the woman who owned it allowing her mentally ill kid access to the weapon. (Had she lived.) If your kid gets a hold of your gun, especially if someone is hurt because of it, you should serve time. Once a Michigan legislator had a handgun drop out of his pocket in the middle of a committee hearing. (If the urban legend is true.) There should have been a penalty for his stupidity as it endangered others. I have personally seen a parent hand rifles to their 10-year-old and let them run off and have fun. Maybe this one is already illegal?

In my experience people have acted as if the rights provided by the 2nd Amendment means freedom from responsibility. If we do nothing else, we need to change that mindset. That is definitely not how I was raised around firearms.

2) Capacity.
I would support a strict limit on magazine capacity. Capacity should be limited to the single digits. Since I have limited knowledge of firearms, I think of hunting shotguns with a four-shell magazine and handguns with something more reasonable than a 10 + magazine capacity. In a recent editorial in the LA Times, a judge who sentenced Congresswomen Gabby Gifford’s assailant and the killer of 6 others said: “Bystanders got to Loughner and subdued him only after he emptied one 31-round magazine and was trying to load another.”

3) Ownership limitations
I would support a limit on the number of weapons you own. Sorry if it infringes on your hobby or fun collection, but your arsenal is unnecessary in a civilized society. Take up stamp collecting. Let’s debate this one.

4) Certain weapons banned.
There should be a ban on certain weapons based on their technical performance. As Smitty says: guns are killing machines. We have a constitutional right to a certain level of killing machine. I am not sure you could argue we have the right a mass-killing machine. I have little doubt we could come up with a list of impermissible characteristics based on their technical performance.

5) Call me a gun-grabber.
Banned firearms, clips, etc. should be bought back by the government at a higher than market price. I don’t support grandfathering existing weapons from restrictions as was done previously. It sounds like Australia has a model for this program. I would like to learn more about it.

6) Ammunition Sales Ammunition sales should be limited.
I am betting this one would be difficult to enforce. I recently read that once you obtain a gun permit in Israel, you are issued your only supply of ammunition. Interesting concept. Liquor sales are controlled by state government. Why not other items?

7) Better and more widely used background checks.
I need to better understand private sale regulations, but this is what I think... Background checks should be instantaneous, reliable, applicable to all guns sales, and include the private sales of weapons. You should need to obtain a purchase permit with your background check before you buy a weapon in a private sale. If you sell a weapon privately without obtaining a copy of said check, you should see a penalty. This would also require a better involvement from mental health providers and would require a discussion about mental illness and confidentiality. I know people can still obtain weapons illegally, but that is no excuse for handing weapons to the mentally ill or to those with a violent background.



We once laughed at ideas now advocated by Congressmen.


What Happens Next?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Though it is not directed at us, the President is asking for concrete proposals. While I think it is a good idea to take a little bit of time to consider policy, I was disappointed that he also called for an Assault Weapons Ban and ban on "high capacity clips." I understand that any significant reduction in crime or increase in safety is a good thing, I disagree that the above mentioned policies will do anything. So, my questions is what kinds of things should we try?


Who ARE We?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Steve and I just had a quick back-and-forth at the end of the comments section of the previous post, in which I list a few suggestions that don't and do bug me.  I agree with Steve:  let's do that next, because we start to hash-out some actual policy suggestions that have come up recently, and of which there will certainly be more as Congress will apparently begin to actually debate this issue.

But for now, after reading posts like this, I simply need to say:

Who the hell are we??  What kind of society do we live in where we actually suggest that having armed teachers is a good thing??

Accidental-discharge deaths aside, nobody anywhere arms their teachers because it is just...wrong.

So seriously.  In what kind of strange alternate reality do we dwell where arming teachers like airline pilots and US Marshalls seems like a reasonable suggestion?  Are we so insane, so fearful and so violent that we feel like from now on, we need armed people in classrooms?  This isn't some sort of minor issue from the nutbags.  This is a seriously-debated topic here in Lansing among Serious People.

Or that maybe the reason the kids died is let's-blame-the-victim-because-they-shoulda-bum-rushed-the-gunman?

Good fucking holy mooley on a beach, people.

Look, if the folks who want some gun control measures have to claim the Dirty Hippies and pro-ban-on-everything people on their side, then the anti-ban folks have to claim the "let's arm the teachers" people on their side.  Then we can summarily dismiss them.


My Poor Michigan.

Friday, December 14, 2012

If one wanted to destroy a community, how would you do it?

A good way would be to increase taxes on average people, parents and retirees. Then you would defund local government, and starve it of resources for cops, firefighters, and libraries. You would drive up the cost of higher education to unaffordable levels. You would implement laws to push down wages. You would endanger children by allowing weapons in classrooms, churches and sporting events. You would pass bills alienating one of the state's largest religious minorities. You would finally implement laws to prevent it from being undone.

 If you think the above is just hyperbole, consider all the ideas above were passed by the Republicans in the Michigan legislature this session, most in the last 12 hours.

 Why would any young person remain here?


Man-Boy Movies

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I don't know if this looks stupid or cool - maybe both - but it has big robots smashing big monsters, so my lizard brain likes it.

Pacific Rim Official Trailer by teasertrailer


Beer Fights Colds

Not all the news I read this week is depressing. A study done in Japan shows that compound found in beer has anti-viral properties.

In research with scientists at Sapporo Medical University, the compound -- humulone -- was found to be effective in curbing the respiratory syncytial (RS) virus, said the company, which funded the study.


Right to Freeload

Friday, December 07, 2012

So-called Right to Work legislation passed the legislature today.  Bills from the House and Senate cleared in tight margins, and each need one more vote next week.

States with Right to Work laws, bastions of economic progress like Mississippi and Alabama, tend to have lower wages, less robust health care coverage, and higher unemployment.  They have an increase in workplace injury.  A decrease in education and living standards.

Somehow, Right to Work is part of Michigan's reinvention, from a Governor who stated he was against it (but is now obviously for it).

No, Right to Work doesn't break-up a union.  It doesn't make them "illegal."  But it does undo them; worker by worker, benefit by benefit they can no longer afford to fight for, it erodes unions.  Right to Work becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy; all you have to do is erode a union and then point to how ineffective unions are.

At the risk of melodrama:

I fought and bled and generations of Marines died for my right to call myself a Marine.  Being a Marine  is not only something I had to earn with toil, but you have to keep earning it, beyond death.  I know what it is to earn something with blood.

Generations ago, workers who tried to organize were arrested, shot, beaten and killed.  Unions exist now on blood shed then.  Unions and the protections they grant were earned in blood.

When someone wants to take something away or diminish something that is earned in blood, it's a disgrace.  It's an insult.  It's a willful slight to the sacrifices of the past.

And for what?

Please someone say "the unions are their own worse enemy."  You can earn that statement with blood...


Twinkies R.I.P.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hostess has filed for bankruptcy, so it looks like the end of Twinkies, for the time being. There are all sorts of suggestions as to why this is happening, from changing eating habits, to a greedy union. Looking at the epidemic of obesity and how much processed foods people eat, it is hard for me to believe that people don't want this kind of food. I am not a huge fan of Twinkies, though I am saddened that 18,000 people have lost their jobs. One story that isn't getting a lot of press is how much money the higher ups at Hostess were making. From another article:
BCTGM members are well aware that as the company was preparing to file for bankruptcy earlier this year, the then CEO of Hostess was awarded a 300 percent raise (from approximately $750,000 to $2,550,000) and at least nine other top executives of the company received massive pay raises. One such executive received a pay increase from $500,000 to $900,000 and another received one taking his salary from $375,000 to $656,256.
Yep, must have been greedy unions. I am not a business expert, but it looks like a lot of upper level mismanagement. It also looks like they knew things were getting bad and figured to get as much as they could before the company went belly up.


Bastion of Democracy

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Finally, this past Saturday, four whole days after the election, Florida was called for Obama.

This is, of course, after waiting nine hours to vote, some voters finally leaving the polls at 1:00 in the morning.

Say nothing of over 340,000 ballots yet to be counted in Arizona, of course (unsurprisingly, many of those votes were cast in infamous Maricopa County).

This is in addition to instances of voter suppression and intimidation, from voter i.d. laws that had to be struck down to SCOTUS poised to possibly strike-down the heart of the Voting Rights Act.

An Oregon poll worker was fired for allegedly changing ballots, filling-in blanks with Republican candidates.

In some areas, Dems were told to vote in the wrong place.

Voting machines switched votes, as voters watched, from Obama votes to Romney.

Flyers were mailed to Ohio voters, giving not only the wrong precinct information (do people not proofread???), but the wrong election date.

I could go on, but the point is made.  For all of our bluster about freedom and democracy, we're not that good at running elections.  Waiting in line until 1:00 in the morning is not something a Secretary of State should be proud of.  The fact that votes were being counted almost a week or more than a week after the election is something to be ashamed of.  I hate to quote Aaron Sorkin, but he's right in this fictitious TV speech:

And with a straight face, you're going to tell students that America's so starspangled awesome that we're the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom, Japan has freedom, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium has freedom. Two hundred seven sovereign states in the world, like 180 of them have freedom.

Until we get our shit together as "the world's foremost democracy" maybe we should STFU about it.  I understand a little mayhem; it's one day where all of a sudden a bazillon people all show up to do the same thing.  But my heavens, some of this shit is orchestrated.

I submit to you, in case you forgot, PA House Majority Leader Michael Turzai:

Let's get our shit together and have serious conversations about how we get people to vote, about how we encourage people to vote, about non-partisan redistricting, about voter registration.



Wednesday, November 07, 2012


Also, thanks to everyone who came over last night.  Smitty's Pub converted to a fine election night war room, and the beer was passable.


Tracking the Election Results.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

If you are a complete mathematical and political nerd and want to track and predict the election results faster than anyone else in your house, visit Sam Wang's helpful guide to political geekdom.

Complete with graphs!



Get off your dead ass and go vote.  Now!

While I clearly endorse Obama, those readers in Michigan should vote NO, actually vote HELL NO, on Proposal 5 and 6.  Do NOT turn us into CA with restrictions on raising taxes and please don't preserve a billionaire's bridge monopoly.

Go now.

Still here? 

Go vote.


Smitty's Pub 2.0 - Update

Friday, November 02, 2012

The phones are going wild, folks.  Pledges are rolling-in for the Nitro Upgrade for Smitty's Pub.  Pledge now in the comments section before you're left out of the party.

60% of the way towards a stoutier stout!


Smitty's Pub Upgrade, Version 2.0

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Remember a few weeks back, when I mentioned I wanted a stout faucet and nitro system, so I could finally drink certain beers the right way, like my Chocolate Milk Stout?

Let's make this a reality.

Since I doubt I can do a Kickstarter project for my own enjoyment, I thought I'd usher-in a new era here at ATK:  Beerstarter.

This is simple.  Smitty's Pub needs an upgrade; a version 2.0.  This includes a nitrogen keg system and a stout faucet so big beers can be enjoyed with those lovely cascading bubbles, and the Hell I'm living through now of suffering through pint after pint of big stouts pressurized and dispensed on a CO2 system can finally cease.

And you, dear ATK member, can be a part of it all.  You can make this happen.

How? Easy.  Pledge money towards the goal in the comments section of this and subsequent posts.  A mere $289.99 is all that's needed to re-launch Smitty's Pub.  If I get enough pledges by November 31, 2012 (a time after which I will have brewed and started fermenting Nestle's Nemesis), we'll get the system.

Why?  Because when the pub is re-launched, and the first keg of Chocolate Milk Stout is ready on New Years Eve...You, dear member, will get an invitation to the Smitty's Pub New Years Celebration and Smittys Pub 2.0 Re-Launch Extravaganza, in which pint after pint of Nestle's Nemesis (my name for the recipe) is consumed.

I've kicked-in seed money, and will use the progress bar below.  Look!  We're just over 1/3 of the way there already!  It's like a race; when the beer is ready to be kegged...will it have to suffer CO2?  Or will a lovely canister full of Nitrogen be ready and waiting a beer worthy of its tiny, creamy bubbles?

$100; 34.5% towards drinking stouts the right way

The rest, loyal beer enthusiasts, is up to you.


Political Nerdly Goodness

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Here at ATK we haven’t been posting much election stuff this year, which is a shame because during Presidential elections we typically have great traffic and a good time ridiculing conservatives.

It’s also a shame because of the target-rich environment this election offers. Between various nutty rape-obsessed freaks on the right, to the asshole, sociopathic, blue-blooded liar that IS Mitt Romney, it would have been such a great summer to mock and laugh at their expense.

Since we are pretty uncreative this year, I offer some great political nerdiness. Below you will find three great election prediction websites to indulge those political geeks, who also love science and mathematics. The following statisticians, neuroscientists and Poly Sci Professors will make you wonder why the hell we are spending $2 billion on an election when they predicted the likely outcome in June.

Take a look:

Nate Silver is the most well-known election predictor, having appear on the Daily Show and NPR. Silver is a former baseball statistician and creator, who last year imported his blog over to the New York Times.

     Check out FiveThirtyEight.

Prof. Sam Wang's academic specialties are biophysics and neuroscience. The Princeton University Professor has been predicting elections longer than Silver, and with equal accuracy.

     Check out the Princeton Election Consortium.

Drew Linzer is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Emory University. His site, called Votamatic is less frequently updated, but interesting nonetheless.

     Take a look at Votamatic.

Utah Valley State University’s Political Science and History department have their own model.

     Check out Jay DeSart at the DeSart and Holbrook Election Forecast.


Here is a fifth source:
Wesley N. Colley is a senior research scientist at the Center for Modeling, Simulation and Analysis at the University of Alabama in Huntsville who has joined with J. Richard Gott, III, a professor of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University.  The run various sports and election predictions.

     Go to Gott and Colley's Median Poll Statistics.


For those pissing their pants over this single poll or that single poll, I recommend you look at these sites, which better look at various soruces of data.  Some rely on state-wide polls only (Wang and Linzer); weight and agregate national polls with state polls, along with econmic data (Silver); or weitake the median of the state polls (Colley).


NY Times Brews and Reviews White House Honey Ale

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

As you may have read, a few of us gathered a week or so ago to help Smitty brew his own, all-grain version of the White House Honey Porter, which is to be followed up by an extract version of the White House Honey Ale.

The New York Times has beat us to it, enlisting the help of a Brooklyn, New York brewer who brewed the Ale.  The NYT followed up with a positive review.  

I look forward to Smitty's improved, all-grain version made with his favorite grain, hops and the sweat and love of ATK.

UPDATE:  Over at Streak's Place, our friend is also brewing and bottling the Porter.  Too bad we live a half-country away and cannot do a back-to-back taste test.


2012 Great American Beer Fest Winners!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

One of my favorite posts of the year is every October.  I get to announce to all 6 of us the winners from the Great American Beer Fest in Boulder, CO.  Pro- and home-brewers from all over the country enter their best for a chance at winning one of the most prestigious medals in all of brewing.

The full press release is here, but since we're all really only interested in how brewers from Michigan did, here's the goods:

  • Hazelnut Coffee Cream Stout, Redwood Brewing Co., Flint, MI:  SILVER
  • Kuhnhenn Braggot (honey/fruit beer), Kuhnhenn Brewing Co., Warren, MI: BRONZE
Yeah, that's it.  Just 2 medals this year.  Well, we have 111 breweries in our lovely state and I think maybe we need to have some of our new breweries focus on quality over quantity.  Plus, Founders, New Holland, Dragonmeade, Short's and Bell's have won just about every award you can possibly win.

Check out the other winners here!

I'd also like to point out that occasional ATK-Alum Sopor, who now brews for legendary Rogue brewery in Newport, OR, has this to report:

  • GOLD: Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Rogue Brewery, Newport, OR
Congrats to Gold-Medalist Rogue Brewery and our very own "Sopor!"

We expect a shipment of this brew as soon as possible, Colin.


NOS, Dude.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I've decided to make the plunge into Nitrogen.

No, not for my car; I drive a Chevy Traverse.  NOS would be kinda a waste of time and effort, and quite frankly I am pleased enough with my junk that I don't need the ego boost.

No, not to make whippets for me to get high as shiiiit either.

No, it's time to introduce a nitrogen tap into my brewing repertoire.

I've not had to do much begging with Mrs. Smitty.  She enjoys a nitrogenated brew, especially a stout.  It enhances toasty-roasty flavors, and imparts a creamy taste and mouthfeel to an otherwise heavy beer.  Some of her favorite beers are more favorite with nitrogen.'s an "investment."  Nitrogen requires its own special tank and its own special regulator and its own special tubing, given its molecular difference from good ol' CO2.  Heck, it even requires a special "stout faucet" to pour that perfect pint of cascading bubbles.

But look how pretty:

so shiny!

It's not pure nitrogen; that's really hard to force into a beer under homebrewer conditions.  It's a nitrogen/CO2 mix, available at my local gas supply store as "brewer's mix," or "G-mix."  But it is nitrogen-heavy, and given the smaller bubble size than CO2, gives the beer that creamy cask-aged mouthfeel you get from Guinness or Boddington's or a darn-good classic British Pub Ale.

And given that I'm now entering stout/pub ale season, with batches of Chocolate Milk Stout in the works, I figure it's time to amp-up my offerings and do a stout the way it's meant to be done:  through a stout faucet, maintained by nitrogen.

And worse comes to worse, I'll try that liquid nitrogen ping-pong-ball trick I saw on YouTube.


Hail to the Chief Beer

Monday, October 08, 2012

Feels good to be back in the brewing saddle after a summer-long break.  So busy was the Smitty clan with vacations and sports over the summer that I didn't get a chance to brew.  First time in a long while that that much time has gone between batches.

But no more!  Yesterday's brewing event was my all-grain conversion of the White House Honey Porter, and less than 24 hours after pitching yeast, we've got solid fermentation.

Crack those grains...
Though I was heartbroken that my normal Chief Assistant Brewmaster Joel wasn't able to make it, I had wonderful assistance in Acting Chief Assistant Brewmaster Bob (yeah, that Bob of this here site), and Assistant to the Acting Chief Assistant Brewmaster James, who is new to brewing altogether...but not new to beer.  The Lagunitas he brought over helped lubricate our collective bad-decision-making capabilities.  We were further joined by Lead Technical Observer Brian and Jon the Entertainer.

We will allow Mrs. Smitty to comment herself on how the day went; everyone who came over brought at least one kid with them, so it was actually a giant, screaming Kid Party in which a handful of outnumbered adults drank and brewed beer and pretended not to hear anything.

The White House Honey Porter will be ready for drinking on election night.  Party at the Smitty House on November 6!  Election results and beer!

The honey

Pitching yeast

Tonight I plan to do the White House Honey Ale.  This one is a extract-plus-specialty-grain kit you can buy exclusively from Northern Brewer.  I had planned to simultaneously brew the al-grain for the experienced guys and anyone who was curious, and the extract for a n00b who is actually interested in picking up the hobby.  As it turned out, everyone wanted to watch the all-grain process.  Who knew.  So, I'll do the extract this evening.  It'll seem fast and easy, and will be ready on Election Eve as well.
Beautiful fermentation!


For Amber Waves of Grain...

Friday, October 05, 2012

Where's the grain bill for this Sunday's Patriotic Brew Fest?

Almost here!

On Vehicle for Delivery...TODAY!!



Patriotic Brew Day

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Having put this off long enough, I have finally pulled the trigger on a brew day for the Presidential beers! This Sunday, October 7, starting after breakfast and before kickoffs, I'll be firing-up the burners, mashing grains and boiling wort!

Northern Brewer offers the recipe kits for the White House Honey Ale and the White House Honey Porter for a decent price. The problem is this: the kits are extract-with-specialty-grain kits, and this blog has gone all-grain for some time now. A conundrum.

Problem solved, however! There are enough people interested in being a part of this "Presidential Beer" moment - and enough people who haven't brewed yet but want to learn - that I can kill 2 birds with one stone! I purchased the Northern Brewer Honey Ale kit, and plan to introduce the n00bs who will be joining us to the ease and joy of homebrewing by doing that beer the beginner's way: stovetop kettle, steep specialty grains in a little bag, add water to the fermenter. Easy, done in 2-2 1/2 hours! I hope to urge some folks to take-on this fine craft, and may even be willing to part with my old stovetop boil kettle and bottling bucket to an interested party.

Then, I took about an hour, consulted some resources and pros, and converted - to the best of my and our collective ability - the Honey Porter extract kit to an all-grain recipe. While the stovetop crowd knocks the Honey Ale out, some of us can do the all-grain on the big burner.

I am actually really looking forward to Sunday. We'll move a TV into the garage and show some football while we brew. People are bringing kids over and Mrs. Smitty is preparing a "hotdog party" for the families that come over (tons of hotdogs, gobs of options for toppings, from sophisticated to ballpark). This isn't just a brew's a brew party!

I have timed it so these two beers will be ready to be tapped on election night. So...follow-up party on November 6!

For the real geeks in the crowd, the original Northern Brewer White House Honey Porter Kit calls for:

  • 6.3 lb Gold malt syrup
  • 1 lb honey
  • 1 lb Briess Caramel 20
  • .75 lb Briess Munich Malt
  • .625 English Black Malt
  • .188 English Chocolate Malt
  • 1 oz Nugget (.5 @ 45 min, .5 @ 30 min)
  • 1/2 oz Halertau (end of boil)
  • Wyeast #1056 - American Ale
I converted it thusly:

  • 7.75 lb Maris Otter Pale Malt (base-grain, to simulate Gold malt syrup)
  • 1 lb Crystal Malt 60L (base-grain, to simulate Gold malt syrup)
  • all other specialty grains and honey remain the same, as is the hop schedule
I feel good about the conversion, and I am so in love with Maris Otter as a base grain for Brit-originated beers (thanks Sopor!) that I get all tickly just thinking about it.  It imparts just the perfect balance of biscuity-sweet that it really mellows and rounds-out a beer the way I remember them from my trip to the UK.  Its worth the extra pennies it costs per pound than any other pale malt base grain, and even more worth the extra-extra pennies to purchase the old-school floor-malted stuff that brewers over there have preferred for 200 years.

Pics and Facebook/Twitter-posting madness to ensue in a few days.  And if you're in the neighborhood around 11:00 this Sunday....come over.  There's beer to be had while there's brewing to be done.


Whippet Badger

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's Friday, and I might like a drink.  In the mean time, enjoy Mitt Romney, who insists:  "Marijuana is great.  Call the whippet badger."


Barack O'Beer

Monday, September 03, 2012

Perhaps it was public pressure. Perhaps it was our post, one among many, urging the White House take action.  Perhaps our President and his staff are just into the finest hobby in the world.  Whatever it was, whatever the reason was, the White House has decided to release their beer recipes unto homebrewers the world over!

From the press release:

As far as we know the White House Honey Brown Ale is the first alcohol brewed or distilled on the White House grounds. George Washington brewed beer and distilled whiskey at Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson made wine but there's no evidence that any beer has been brewed in the White House. (Although we do know there was some drinking during prohibition…)
Since our first batch of White House Honey Brown Ale we've added the Honey Porter and have gone even further to add a Honey Blonde this past summer. Like many home brewers who add secret ingredients to make their beer unique, all of our brews have honey that we tapped from the first ever bee-hive on the South Lawn. The honey gives the beer a rich aroma and a nice finish but it doesn't sweeten it.
Another nice touch is that the staff didn't just brew the kit recipe.  They sought some advice, engaged other homebrewers who work at the White House and made some recipes they can truthfully call their own.

Before I get to the recipes, the White House has included a fun little 4-minute vid on brewing the beer, the first-even beer brewed on the White House premises.

These recipes are extract-plus-specialty-grain beers; the kind almost every homebrewer whets their teeth on.  In the coming days, I'm going to look into converting the extracts detailed in the White House recipes into all-grain.  It's a matter of picking the right base grain and a few additional grains for color and flavor in such a way as to match the flavor of the extract syrup.  Additionally, they used dry yeast.  I'm not a giant fan of dry yeast, so I'll grab some yeast strains from White Labs or Wyeast that are in essence the same as the dry...just, you know, wet.

But for the extract brewers on this blog, and for general interest, behold:  The White House Honey Porter and the White House Honey Ale!

White House Honey Porter

  • 2 (3.3) lb. cans light unhopped malt extract
  • 3/4 lb Munich Malt (cracked)
  • 1 lb crystal 20 malt (cracked)
  • 6 oz black malt (cracked)
  • 3 oz chocolate malt (cracked)
  • 1 lb White House Honey
  • 10 HBUs bittering hops
  • 1/2 oz Hallertaur Aroma hops
  • 1 pkg Nottingham dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar for bottling
  1. In a 6 qt pot, add grains to 2.25 qts of 168˚ water. Mix well to bring temp down to 155˚. Steep on stovetop at 155˚ for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, bring 2 gallons of water to 165˚ in a 12 qt pot. Place strainer over, then pour and spoon all the grains and liquid in. Rinse with 2 gallons of 165˚ water. Let liquid drain through. Discard the grains and bring the liquid to a boil. Set aside.
  2. Add the 2 cans of malt extract and honey into the pot. Stir well.
  3. Boil for an hour. Add half of the bittering hops at the 15 minute mark, the other half at 30 minute mark, then the aroma hops at the 60 minute mark.
  4. Set aside and let stand for 15 minutes.
  5. Place 2 gallons of chilled water into the primary fermenter and add the hot wort into it. Top with more water to total 5 gallons if necessary. Place into an ice bath to cool down to 70-80˚.
  6. Activate dry yeast in 1 cup of sterilized water at 75-90˚ for fifteen minutes. Pitch yeast into the fermenter. Fill airlock halfway with water. Ferment at room temp (64-68˚) for 3-4 days.
  7. Siphon over to a secondary glass fermenter for another 4-7 days.
  8. To bottle, make a priming syrup on the stove with 1 cup sterile water and 3/4 cup priming sugar, bring to a boil for five minutes. Pour the mixture into an empty bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter over it. Distribute priming sugar evenly. Siphon into bottles and cap. Let sit for 1-2 weeks at 75˚.

White House Honey Ale

  • 2 (3.3 lb) cans light malt extract
  • 1 lb light dried malt extract
  • 12 oz crushed amber crystal malt
  • 8 oz Biscuit Malt
  • 1 lb White House Honey
  • 1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings Hop Pellets
  • 1 1/2 oz Fuggles Hop pellets
  • 2 tsp gypsum
  • 1 pkg Windsor dry ale yeast
  • 3/4 cup corn sugar for priming
  1. In an 12 qt pot, steep the grains in a hop bag in 1 1/2 gallons of sterile water at 155 degrees for half an hour. Remove the grains.
  2. Add the 2 cans of the malt extract and the dried extract and bring to a boil.
  3. For the first flavoring, add the 1 1/2 oz Kent Goldings and 2 tsp of gypsum. Boil for 45 minutes.
  4. For the second flavoring, add the 1/2 oz Fuggles hop pellets at the last minute of the boil.
  5. Add the honey and boil for 5 more minutes.
  6. Add 2 gallons chilled sterile water into the primary fermenter and add the hot wort into it. Top with more water to total 5 gallons. There is no need to strain.
  7. Pitch yeast when wort temperature is between 70-80˚. Fill airlock halfway with water.
  8. Ferment at 68-72˚ for about seven days.
  9. Rack to a secondary fermenter after five days and ferment for 14 more days.
  10. To bottle, dissolve the corn sugar into 2 pints of boiling water for 15 minutes. Pour the mixture into an empty bottling bucket. Siphon the beer from the fermenter over it. Distribute priming sugar evenly. Siphon into bottles and cap. Let sit for 2 to 3 weeks at 75˚.



Sunday, September 02, 2012

I have the Whitehouse beer recipes.  On my way to do a bunch of crap today, but will post as soon as possible.  Because you're all dying for it, I know.


Mars or Alderaan?

Friday, August 31, 2012

While we have been discussing the 2nd Amendment here at ATK, the Curisoity rover has been blasting away on Mars with a gun - of sorts - of its own.

As you will see below, Curiosity has been zapping holes into rocks with a laser to examine their make-up.  See the before and after below.

So I wonder if the 2nd Amendment applies on Mars.  Does the 2nd Amendment apply to laser weapons?  If there are Martians there, could Curiosity defend itself?

Read more here.


Faculty in Colorado Told to Allow Concealed Carry

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In many states, college campuses are still a no-go for lawful carry. Michigan makes in unlawful to carry in a college classroom or dormitory. Most campuses ban carry for students and employees. There are some states, such as Utah, that allow it. Well, now Colorado joins them. The Supreme Court of Colorado said that campuses can't prohibit concealed carry. Despite this, some professors said they would cancel class if some permit holder had a concealed gun. The chancellor responded by telling them they could not do this. Personally, I have no problem with university carry. In Michigan, most college students are under 21, so the majority of students would not be able to carry anyway.


To Infinity And Beyond

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Neil Armstrong; August 5, 1930 - August 25, 2012. May he rest in peace. Fitting, isn't it, that we can and will remember him every time we look up in the night sky at the moon. That's a helluva tomb stone...


Obama Continues to Disappoint Civil Libertarians

Thursday, August 23, 2012

One of my favorite writers, Glenn Greenwald, is now at the Guardian. He continues to grill the current administration on issues dealing with civil liberties, war and terrorism. Unfortunately, outside of blogs and media outlets that deal primarily with civil liberties, the MSM really isn't interested in talking about these things. For that matter, most people don't really seem all that interested. His latest OpEd discusses the administration's strange secrecy practices, which seem to be let secrets out when it may help reelection and don't when it might hurt. I understand that there are legitimate security concerns, but it does seem odd to allow a Navy SEAL that was on that raid to publish an account of the mission, while John Kerry tells reporters asking about it to, "shut up and move on." Even more disturbing is how this administration has gone after whistleblowers at an unprecedented rate (double all of the previous administrations combined). Greenwald referenced a Mother Jones article that does a good job of highlighting some of the recent abuses. Is this healthy?


Obama...Gimmie Your Brew!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

News of the Whitehouse supplying POTUS with home-brewed Honey Ale (made with honey from the Whitehouse garden) as he hits the road has been broadly covered by nominal publications like WaPo and important publications like our very own Around The Keg. But now the story gets a step more interesting. When he started in office, Obama created a citizen petition site called We the People. If you have an issue you wish the Whitehouse to address, get enough signatures by a certain date and ostensibly the Whitehouse will pay heed to your issue. I've used this petition site several times on some pretty meaningful petitions (ask me off-line), but I think this newest petition is the most important of all. The petition: Release the recipe for the Honey Ale home brewed at the White House. From the petition:

Following in the footsteps of great men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, Barack Obama has reportedly been enjoying the rewards of home brewed beer. Recent reports from news outlets like the Washington Post (August 15th, 2012) have stated that Obama has been drinking a White House home brew Honey Ale while on the campaign trail. In keeping with the brewing traditions of the founding fathers, homebrewers across America call on the Obama Administration to release the recipe for the White House home brew so that it may be enjoyed by all. "I think it’s time for beer” -Franklin D. Roosevelt (March 12, 1933)
The goal is to reach a total of 25,000 signatures by September 17, 2012; as of typing this post, there are 2,838 signators. I hope, as soon as I hit "publish," to be 2,839. Do your patriotic duty, Keggers. Sign the petition. Interestingly, a Reddit user has actually sent a real-life FOIA request to the Whitehouse, asking for the recipe. A copy of the FOIA can be found here. It ends with "Also, if you could send me a copy autographed by the President, you'd be the coolest FOIA officer in the whole federal government, and who could resist that title?" Personally, I hope he gets the autographed copy.


Obama Brew!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

In the most imporant news of the day, it has been reported that the White House now brews its own beer!

According to the DesMoines Register, not only does the White Brew two varieties of beer, they carry it with them on the Presidential tour bus.

Maybe you think Obama is the 2nd coming of Christ, who saved the world from economic collapse and brought honor back to America.  Maybe you think he is the illegitimately-elected Kenyan usurper of the Constitution. 

Not matter your political affiliation, I think we at ATK have to say that this action alone warrants an endorsement from our editorial board.  What say you ATKers?

UPDATE:  In a related article from CBS News:

"...the White House's own brew, made with equipment the Obamas bought with their own money -- the first beer ever made at the White House, according to historians.

It is White House Honey Ale."


Gun Laws in Wake of the Colorado Shooting

Monday, August 13, 2012

I didn't mean to hijack the previous post and turn it into a gun debate, so I thought I would start another discussion for just that purpose. I keep hearing how we, as in the US, can't have a discussion on this topic for whatever reason. I am skeptical of people making this claim. If I had to guess, most of them are saying this because they just don't want to hear from the "other side." Like any other political/social issue, this one can get heated. I figure that the readers we have are rational and reasonable people, so why don't we have a discussion? What changes do you think are needed?


They're Short.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Moments ago, Mitt Rmoney (R-Flip flopper) just chose Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Tea Party) as his running mate.  So, can a Presidential candidate pick a running mate who wants to turn Medicare into a voucher program and not lose senior votes?  Is Florida now an easier win for Obama?

This just reeks of a campaign that cannot shore up the support of its base.

Let's kick off this campaign season a bit late and let me know your thoughts.


We're Tall

Monday, August 06, 2012

If you missed it last night, here's the vid of the Entry, Descent and Landing portions of the Curiosity rover landing on Mars.


I think at about 28:00, touchdown is confirmed.  NASA JPL...erupts.  It's just awesome.

Video streaming by Ustream

Look what we can do when we put our minds to it!

Here are the first 2 shots from Curiosity, confirming not only that it landed in a series of really complicated maneuvers (including a parachute, retro-rockets and a crane), but that it works.  I'm all misty.

rear-facing "hazard cam;" lens a bit dusty, clear shadow of
Curiosity on the surface of...oh...ANOTHER PLANET
The surface of Mars, using a slightly higher-res camera.  To the
lower right is one of Curiosity's wheels. 

UPDATE BY BOB:  Even higher res image from same camera:

Higher res, (but not HD) image sent from Mars a couple hours after the above.  This one is double the resolution.

UPDATE 2 BY BOB - A shot of the parchute open above the lander as shot by the orbiter.

Unreal.  There it is.  In another 48 hours, we'll start getting hi-resolution color photos.


To The Moon

Friday, July 13, 2012

I ran across this quote from Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, and I enjoy it for its poignancy and bluntness:

You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it.  From out there on the moon, international politics looks so petty.  You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, 'Look at that, you son of a bitch.'

Sure, astronaut Edgar does indeed endorse UFO myths, but that shouldn't detract from the general direction of his quote.  Perhaps someday, as space travel becomes easier and more common, more people will get a chance to see Earth from space.  Every astronaut ever quoted seems to have the same theme to their quote, just like every astrophysicist who studies this stuff:  when you look at us from the perspective of "up there" instead of "down here," all this petty crap dissolves; politics, race, territory all seem insignificant.


FIRE! M..Meh heh heh...FIRE!

Monday, July 09, 2012

H/T to Beavis and Butthead, of course.

But anyway, ever wonder what 270 solid rocket boosters and 405 main engines look like blasting-off simultaneously?


Great!  Since you've always wondered, here it is:  all 135 shuttle launches in the history of the program, launching simultaneously.



Sunday, July 08, 2012

OK Science nerds. on August 5 th a new rover will...hopefully land on Mars. Check out this video, which shows the sci-fi-like gymnastics this thing will undergo to deposit the rover Curiosity on the surface of Mars. Click here.


Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

I thought about leaving the "Oh, Canada!" post up over the 4th of July cuz it'd be funny, but I resisted and instead offer you Ray Charles playing "America, the Beautiful."  We have a fine national anthem, what with explosions and bravery and freedom, but there are days I think that this song would have made a wonderful anthem. Despite it not being such, I still love the song, and how this singer performs it.

But if we must have our true anthem, and we must, I say this is one of the best:


Oh, Canada!

Monday, July 02, 2012

I love our neighbors to the North.


I *Think* I'm Happy...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Right?  Am I happy?

From Balloon Juice, who quoted from SCOTUSblog:

In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.


Beer Poetry

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I saw this poem not long ago, and loved it. Just wanted to share.

The Little Vagabond
by William Blake, 1757-1827

Dear mother, dear mother, the church is cold,

But the ale-house is healthy and pleasant and warm;

Besides I can tell where I am used well,

Such usage in Heaven will never do well.

But if at the church they would give us some ale,

And a pleasant fire our souls to regale,

We'd sing and we'd pray all the live-long day,

Nor ever once wish from the church to stray.

Then the parson mug preach, and drink, and sing,

And we'd be as happy as birds in the spring;

And modest Dame Lurch, who is always at church,

Would not have bandy children, nor fasting, nor birch.

And God, like a father rejoicing to see

His children as pleasant and happy as he,

Would have no more quarrel with the Devil or the barrel,

But kiss him, and give him both drink and apparel.


Art Via Science

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


On board the International Space Station ESA astronaut André Kuipers
 looks through a drop of water containing a bubble of air.

Credit: ESA/NASA


We're Tall, O God, We're Tall

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

As you all have seen in the news, Ray Bradbury passed away a few weeks ago on June 5.  But just today, I stumbled across the video embedded below (H/T to It's Okay To Be Smart).  This video, taken with yesterday's news that Voyager 1 is now in the "heliosheath," just about to break through into interstellar space, make a powerful statement to me about the value of human imagination and education.

A ship of our creation, directly in communication with us, an extension of us, breaking through the "barrier" of our solar system, our sun, our home. We are tall today.


And the Answer Is:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Here's as full of a story we're going to get on MBC right now.

So, a question I have for the coming months: who will buy the rights to MBC's brand names?

And some follow-ups, if I may:  Will they keep the names the same?  Will it be resurrected, like Bobby resurrected the Celis name?  Will whichever company buys the beer brands improve some of the recipes?  Keep some the same?

And the fate of MBC Downtown is unclear.  The manager right no is trying to get a Class C liquor license, allowing him to be a beer bar and serve, as is his wont, higher-end craft beer.  If the City of Lansing gives him guff, I'll be sure to let all 4 ATK readers know so we can all bitch to city hall.


Beer to Beat the August Heat

Monday, June 11, 2012

Time to get a couple beers in the fermenter for the brutal August I'm expecting.  I'm thinking of some new (but not risky) takes on classic summery ales.

What about a Blonde Ale (go here, click "6B" on page 2), brewed with apricots?

What about a Kolsch (go here, click "6C" on page 2), or maybe a Weizen, (15A, same page), brewed with honey?  Note:  the honey doesn't add sweetness; it ferments completely.  It'll add some alcohol, and some flavors of the type of honey it is (organey from orange blossoms, floral from clover, etc), as well as add a bit of body to the beer.  So the Kolsch won't be so lightly watery and the weizen will be a tad creamier.

This Blonde Ale, which is normally this sort of lighter, grainy concoction, brewed with apricots is really exciting me.  I love Dogfish Head ApriHop, what with its complex balance of hoppy IPA and nectary-sweet apricots.  Really a great beer.  But a Blonde Ale is normally  I think apricots, as mildly sweet as they are, will add a really nice sweetness to this otherwise grainy doldrum without overpowering it.  Apricots aren't as strong as blueberries or raspberries or cherries.  They're really mild, so I feel like I'm not gonna be brewing "fruit juice with beer in it."

Note - some examples:  New Holland has a fine Kolsch-style ale called Full Circle.  My favorite weizen is Hacker-Pschorr Weisse.  And a passable Blonde Ale is either Fuller's Summer Ale or Saugatuck Oval Beach Blonde.

What says the crowd?

Week 3 of Crossfit training.  I train 3 days, take a day off to stretch and do yoga, 3 on 1 off, etc.  Today's Workout of the Day is called The Filthy Fifty:

  1. 50 box jumps
  2. 50 jumping pullups (start in a squat, jump into pull up, drop, land in squat)
  3. 50 kettlebell swings, 30#
  4. 50 walking lunges
  5. 50 push-press (standing shoulder/upper-chest press), 45#
  6. 50 back extensions
  7. 50 burpees
  8. 50 jump-rope reps
  9. Run 800m
Hell yeah.


This, I Believe

Friday, June 08, 2012

A blog I frequent, Skepchick, is one of my favorite skeptic/science blogs sites on the interwebs, and it has really quality writing from honest-to-goodness scientists on topics from their field of study to feminism to pop culture.  Skepchick is part of a network (the lead site in the network).  One of the other sites in this network is Mad Art Lab, a skeptics-meets-artists bog.

That's an "around the ass to scratch my elbow" way of getting us to Zen Pencils.  Zen Pencils is the work of an Asian-Autrialian named Gavin Aung Than who illustrates quotes and parts of speeches of famous and interesting people.  I really dig his work, and am always inspired by TR's "Man in the Arena" speech, illustrated here.

Two of Than's illustrations really jumped out at me.

This one, an excerpt from Carl Sagan, when used in conjunction with the last 5 paragraphs of Pale Blue Dot (animated here), sums up pretty much my entire belief system.  Than's illustration to Sagan's words that mean so much to what I hold true - somehow, "cartoony" lends a certain innocent simplicity and credibility to those words - that I get a little throat-lumpy and am pleased to share.

Finally, this illustration is one I am having Smitty Jr read, and one I'll share with the Wonder Twins.  This is how excited I want them to be when it comes to uncovering - in a real way - their world.  I want them to embrace science and learning and questioning and searching.  The cartoon, based on Phil Plait's (Bad Astronomy, another favorite blog) speech to a science fair, I think is built perfectly to reach a smart kid.

I like where Than is headed with Zen Pencils.  Not only did I not want to monkey with putting jpgs of his illustrations on here, I really want you to go to his site, hunt around, get inspired, and maybe even support him.

Happy Friday!



Thursday, June 07, 2012



It's real.  It's really real...

Cosmos - that Cosmos - is...

 ...wait for it...

getting a sequel!

Carl Sagan's widow and original Cosmos producer, Ann Druyan, is teaming-up with Seth McFarlane (yes...that Seth McFarlane) to air a 13-episode sequel to Cosmos.

And who's the host?

Oh god, I might's...NeildeGrasseTyson.

Dream.  Come.  TRUE.

Anyway, from the article:

The bad — or at least, potentially bad — news is that, because of MacFarlane’s involvement, the series will air in prime time, and on Fox.
Now, in one way I’m all for showing it in prime time on a major network, because it’ll be that much more likely that people who routinely ignore the Discovery Channel, the Science Channel and, yes, PBS will actually see it. 
I’m less thrilled, though, that it will have to compete with other, more mainstream prime-time shows — and it’ll be on Fox, which doesn’t have the greatest track record for giving shows a chance to pull their ratings up once they go down.
I agree with the middle paragraph.  I think it's fine to run on mainstream TV, because that's who we're trying to reach.  That's the intent of Cosmos. And I think it does help that it's Seth McFarlane, whom Fox has made gazillions off of.  If it tanks just a little, McFarlane might have the juice to kep it going rather than having it pulled.

It apparently airs "some time in 2013."  I'm checking my DVR schedule every night starting in December.


Transit of Venus - It's Not Too Late!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Smitty:  "Speaking of geeked...gonna make a Transit of Venus viewer?"

Bob:  "Too late. Its tomorrow. I will hold off until 2117."

No!  It's not too late!

Smitty's guide to a field-expedient Transit of Venus viewer:

Method 1:
  1. Buy 2 of those triangular post office picture shipping tubes
  2. Tape them together to make a 6' tube
  3. On one short end, cut a hole a few inches big; this will the the "top" you'll point at the sun 
  4. Tape some tin foil over that hole
  5. Pick the tin foil in the middle with a push-pin
  6. down near the bottom, but not on the bottom, like along the side near the bottom, cut open a window about as wide as one of the sides of the triangle shipper, and several inches long up the length.
  7. put a piece of blank white paper in the window and flat on the bottom 
  8. Point the viewer at the sun
  9. Observe through the window!
Method 2:
  1. Take a piece of paper or posterboard and punch a hole in the middle
  2. Lay a blank piece of paper on the ground, maybe at an angle depending on the angle of the sun
  3. Kneel or stand up.  
  4. Hold the hole-punched sheet over the one on the ground so it covers with a shadow, save for a little prick of light (I said "little prick"...I know...)
  5. That little prick, if pointed right, is the sun.  Look for a dot.  That's Venus.
Here's my source for methods 1 and 2.

Want a third method?  Here's one with a bathroom hand mirror!

No excuses!  SCIENCE!!


Found: 2 Hubble-Class Space Telescopes.

Monday, June 04, 2012

"First rule in government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price?" 
 - The Movie: Contact

Or three for that matter.

It seems that the National Reconnaissance Organization has just stumbled across a couple Hubble-class Space Telescopes they had laying around. While these were built to look downward instead of toward the heavens, it seems they will work damn well pointing upward.  NASA has plans to use them to seek out dark matter and save the U.S. $250 million over the cost of building a new telescope.

See the great article at the New York Times.


MBC: The Ongoing Saga

Thursday, May 31, 2012

First, news came that MBC was suddenly evicted from their brewery in Webberville.  That was April 25.

But all seemed well, because they had a sweetheart lease deal to move to Fenton to be a part of Fenton's revitalization efforts.  That was April 26.

However, that same day, from a different reporter at LSJ, news came that the deal between the City of Fenton and MBC fell through.

The fate of MBC, and its downtown pub, is still unknown to this blogger.  The downtown pub is still open for business, and still serving beer (though they now won't do growler refills or sell bottles to go); there's still some stock floating around at distributors.

But what about the City of Fenton and their thirst for a brewery?

It's gotten competitive!  Arbor Brewing (Ann Arbor, MI), Royal Oak/Detroit Beer Company (Royal Oak, MI), Clarkston Union (a big high-end like 100-tap beer bar), and Tavern 131 (same kind of thing) have all pitched Fenton for that spot.  Fenton officials will weigh several factors, including how well the candidate has revitalized the town in its current location.  My money's on Arbor/Corner Brewery!

More as I know it!'s workout of the day - the Helton.
3 rounds, each round consisting of:

  • Run 800m
  • 30 reps @ 30# dumbbell squat-cleans
  • 30 Burpees
  • Rest 1 minute
My thighs hurt.  Stairs kinda sucked this morning.


So Where Was I...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Back to life again.

First, I am doing a saison tasting this weekend, probably Friday or Saturday.  I plan to do a taste comparison between 3 types of my favorite summertime beer, and see which one, completely subjectively, comes out on top.  I've got a big bottle of Avery (Boulder, CO) Eighteen dry-hopped rye saison, a bottle of New Holland (Holland, MI) Golden Cap saison, and a bottle of the classic and original Saison Dupont (Belgium).  If I'm feeling frisky, I might add Ommegang (Cooperstown, NY) Hennepin to the mix.

Given my "I'm being good" diet, I will have to share these big bottles with some willing participants.  And eat mainly spinach salads all day.  Or perhaps some protein shakes.  Oh, the sacrifices I make.

Speaking of diets, I was back to the gym today.  Having the Insanity warm-up and stretching sessions memorized, I plowed into an Insanity warmup to get the heart pumping and the sweat flowing.  I have a new respect and understanding of sweat.  I used to stop at the point where sweat got "too much." Now?  If my shirt isn't see-through-soaked, I didn't work hard enough.

After the warm-up, today's Work Out of the Day (WOD) was the Lumberjack 20:

  • 20 deadlifts @ 250#
  • Run 400m (I set the pace at 8mph)
  • 20 kettlebell swings @ 2 pood (about 70 pounds)
  • Run 400m
  • 20 overhead squats @ 100# (put 100 on a bench bar, hold it over your head, do 20 squats)
  • Run 400m
  • 20 Burpees
  • Run 400m
  • 20 pullups
  • Run 400m
  • 20 box jumps (24" box)
  • Run 400m
  • 20 dumbbell squat-cleans @ 45# each dumbbell
  • Run 400m
After that, I did 5 minutes of some ab work (leg lifts and obliques), and had a nice stretch.  Was in the gym for a total of an hour, including putting stuff in a locker, getting it out when I was done, a water bottle refill at the drinking fountain, and fucking around getting the weights situated.  We're talking 60 minutes, out of the car, back in the car.  YOU CAN DO THIS, PEOPLE.



Potential Drunks

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