While in Seattle the last few days I drank Alaskan Amber every chance I got, since I didn't (and still don't) know when I'll get another chance. There were a couple of places that for some insane reason didn't carry it though, so I got to add a couple new beers to my "tried" list.
First was at a little pub in Issaquah where Gene, my boss Tom, and I went after having dinner across the street. The place had a dozen or so Rogue beers, and for some goofy reason, Bud Light and Coors Light. That's it. Nothing else.
After searching the taps and the list of bottled beers I found "Rogue Smoke Ale (AKA: Rauchbier)" and that sounded intriguing. It came in a pretty cool bottle that I was going to keep but the bartender took it.
(draft) It was a good beer, not nearly as smoky as I'd been hoping, but the smoke flavor and aroma was still pretty apparent. It had a less wide-ranging and complex flavor than the Cone Smoker I get when I'm back home.
On Monday I met one of my former bosses for a couple of beers near where I used to work (it was quite strange to be taking that exit off hwy 520 again) and once again, they didn't carry Alaskan Amber.
What they did carry, and I've had this before, this:
Mac & Jack's African Amber
This beer is quite simply excellent. Brewed and sold only in the Northwest, it's exemplifying a level of quality and taste that all microbreweries should strive to meet instead of just churning out random recipies with unusual labels.
I can hardly describe how much these past two days have helped my mood. I'm more relaxed and happy than I've been in months. Seeing all of my friends in the Seattle area was just the therapy I needed - even though I didn't know I needed therapy.
And not just my friends. Even those people who I'd only count as "friendly acquaintances" were all a welcomed sight. People who I barely remember have been coming up to me, shaking my hand, and reliving moments from the old days with me. Man, I sure got to know a lot of people while living here.
Yesterday Gene and I played pool for several hours during the day, and I'll post about that in the pool 'blog. Last night I went back to The Sports Pub in Kent, mainly to see Holly. It was league night there and I got to see even more people and catch up on even more old times.
Holly was of course happy to see me, though perhaps not as happy as I was to see her still doing well. She made me drink a couple of shots and that's something I would only do for her. After a shot of Jagermeister and a shot of peppermint schnapps, plus four Alaskan Ambers, I ended up staying until after midnight drinking Diet Cokes and waiting for the alcohol to wear off.
During another late breakfast at Shari's I began to dread the impending end of my vacation. My boss will be arriving tomorrow and then it's back to work.
Still, coming on this trip, and especially coming up here early, may have been the best two ideas I've had in years. The knowledge that I touched so many people when I lived here, most of them positively, really makes me feel good about myself and my ability to make friends wherever I go.
Now if I can just figure out a way to get to Omaha to see all my friends there.
In Seattle, that is. Landed yesterday evening after a day of flying and was pretty tired until I left the airport. That's when the old familiar sights got me quite excited. Even the long drive from the airport to Bellevue, then from Bellevue to Kent, seemed like an old friend welcoming me back. You drive a stretch of freeway at 5 mph for three years, as I did when I lived here, and you get to know that stretch pretty well.
So like I said, I went from the airport to Bellevue to check into my hotel. I just threw my luggage in the room and left immediately for Kent.
My excitement level had reached a peak by the time I arrived at my old hangout, The Sports Pub. I was greeted by my friend Gene as soon as I went in, then I walked around and said hello to everyone else I knew from the old days. I was a little surprised that there were so many people there that remembered me, and that I remembered as well.
Another thing I did pretty much right away was order myself an Alaskan Amber. Wow, still as fantastic as ever. Absense makes the heart grow fonder they say, and I was as fond of that beer, and the three others I had, as any I can remember. Even the frosted glass (I'd forgotten about that) couldn't kill the perfect balance of that Juneau treasure.
(draft) My favorite session beer. Perfectly balanced sweetness, bitterness, and maltiness. Too bad I have to fly 2000 miles to get it.
The place was pretty crowded, more than I remember, so Gene and I ended up playing scotch doubles against a couple of other guys. I'll post about the pool itself in the pool blog, but to summarize: we should have won every game and we won most of them.
I was a little disappointed that Holly wasn't working last night. I'll definitely need to catch her there on Sunday. One pleasant surprise was the appearance of Reeny, an bartender from the old days who remains the most beautiful woman I've ever known in person.
Bars in Washington close at 2:00, so Gene and I had a long breakfast at Shari's (another big deja vu!) and I made my way back to the hotel at around 3:30.
After installing Linux last week I then realized that my spare PC needed Windows since it was running my license server. I mentioned before that I needed Linux to run Apache, and now it turned out that I needed Windows as well.
The solution? Virtualization.
It seems that every technology vendor and manufacturer I've talked to during the past year has been talking about "virtual this" and "virtual that" - all with different meanings of what virtual means.
In this case it means that I'm running XP with a cute little virtual Linux instance inside it.
The XP portion runs my license server while the Linux portion runs Apache. It all seems to be working pretty well, though the performance of both systems could be better. It's not like I hammer them or anything so I think this setup will be fine for my needs.
Tonight my sister Dina, her boyfriend Kenny, my cousin Jeff and I traveled to Henryville to check out the haunted house where my nephew Cory is working.
It's been several years since we went to any Halloween attractions. I don't think we really outgrew them we just lost our patience for the lines. And, in my case at least, for the kids that typically form those lines.
Well there were no lines at this place tonight, mainly because it's in Henryville but also because it's pretty stupid when compared to the higher priced attractions closer to Louisville.
The place is set inside an old farmhouse, but before we got to that part we got to take "the adult path" through some trees. The scariest thing about the trees for me was the fear that I'd trip on a root and sprain my ankle. The aura of doom was not helped by the miniature amusement park these people had set in their front yard.
After leaving the trees we were greeted by Cory who informed us that the place wasn't quite open yet, and that he would be playing a dead guy and that he was supposed to be wearing a tux but they couldn't find it and several people were late for work and blah blah blah you know how kids tend to ramble don't you well if you didn't before you do now after reading this sentence.
We eventually made our way past some portable toilets and a very bored-looking policeman to the house itself. Shortly thereafter we were met by a lovely young girl with impossibly large tits. I think her costume was "Jail Bait" or possibly "Elvira, The Early Years". Anyway, she pretty much cleared up the mystery of why my nephew was working there every weekend until 3am.
Titella gave us a little speech about how if we didn't touch the actors inside they wouldn't touch us. She seemed quite bored and I'm sure her back was giving her trouble.
Inside the house were several rooms and passages, each with its own little scary theme. People jumping out at you and shit like that. For me the scariest moment was about ten feet in where they had this 500 year old woman "sleeping" in front of a piano. I was convinced that Methusula's grandma there was going to shriek and start banging out some tune. Well, she didn't do a damn thing but the fear was still there for me.
The entire house was fairly tame and predictable. There were a couple of highlights though. At the top of the stairs a young lass was tied up and pleading for help. While I was thinking about what a good little actress she was a guy came in and sliced her up with a razor.
A little further along we came upon the scene where Cory lay in all his gory glory. He was indeed, a dead guy, a Dead Groom in fact, and he'd apparently been killed (or it was a really huge coincidence) by The Vampire Bride laying on top of him. Now I knew without a doubt why he was working there. Even with all the vampire makeup on I could tell that this was a little cutie, and Cory's "job" was to lay under her all night. Titella, I knew, would have to get in line behind The Vampire Bride to have a shot at my nephew's affection.
Let's see, there was also an amputation scene where The Nurse waved A Severed Leg around while The Victim did her best to shatter every eardrum in Scott County.
I suppose that's about it, except that there seems to be a rule that Michael Myers is required to harass my sister since the same character did the same "get up close and stare" routine with her five years ago at Nightmare Forest.
After struggling, and failing, to get IIS to properly display a local copy of this site I took my spare PC and installed Red Hat Linux on it.
The installation went smoothly though very slowly. The Apache Web Server was already installed so I wsa able to get it up and running with my local site copy pretty quickly.
By a pretty strange coincidence all of this work broke the Wacom mouse on my main PC.
After a long after-work nap I went to Rich O's tonight. The first beer I had was my local favorite Cone Smoker. I've already said that this beer fluctuates quite a bit, and tonight it had done it again. I've gotten to where I always order a small sampling of Cone Smoker before I commit to a 20oz. pint. Tonight's version was very drinkable, though not my favorite. To review:
Version #1: Good, well balanced, with a good smoky taste.
Version #2: Very strong smoke flavor, a little too strong at first but by the end of the glass the smoke seems just right. Very good batch. My favorite of all.
Version #3: No smoke at all. Hoppy taste predominates. If I wanted high gravity and hoppy taste I'd just order an Arrogant Bastard.
Version #4: See version #1.
Version #5: Smoky, but otherwise more bland than any other version so far.
Also on the menu tonight was Rockies Brewing Company's Hazed and Infused, part of Rich O's Hops festival.
(draft) Much blander than I was expecting. Just a beer, neither great nor horrible. I'm starting to think I've got the wrong idea that hoppy must mean bitter.
The Hazed and Infused reminded me of a pretty famous beer, Pilsner Urquel from the Czech Republic. I decided to have a Pilsner to see if the similarity was just in my head.
It kindof was in my head. I've had Pilsner Urquell before and enjoyed it, but tonight I couldn't even drink half the glass. There was a strong orange peel sensation that I just couldn't stomach. As I said, I've enjoyed this beer before, so I think tonight it just clashed too much with the Cone Smoker I'd had earlier.
(draft) Citrusy piss. I recall having this a long time ago and somewhat enjoying it, but my last attempt caused me to swear that I'll never let this touch my lips again.
I found out today that I get to go to Seattle for four days starting next weekend!
I'm going there ostensibly for work reasons, but since that part will only take one day and I'm leaving two days early I'll have Saturday night, Sunday, and most of Monday to catch up with my friends in the area.
I called Gene, one of my best frends anywhere and certainly my best friend in Seattle, to let him know the news. I put him in charge of social coordination for my stay. All I asked is that I get to a place that serves Alaskan Amber Ale, a brew that I've really missed since leaving Seattle in '98.
I noticed today that when I set up the site search function I sorta broke the 'blog search function. Well, not really broke it, I just caused it to display every matching entry twice.
I fixed it quickly enough, but I should have noticed it way before today.
Let me let you people in on a little secret. I have caller-id, and for over five years I have refused to answer any calls unless I knew exactly who was calling.
"Private Caller" - not answering. "Out of Area" - still not answering. "Cellular Call" - Nope. "Some person I never heard of" - still not going to answer.
I dont' care if you let the phone ring 500 times, if I don't know who you are I'm not going to answer it. Never.
Sometimes even if I DO know who you are I'm still going to just let it ring. It's my phone.
And there's no answering machine either. So ha ha.
Give up. If I haven't answered by the fifth ring I never will. You're wasting your time.
Tonight I met up with my sister and her boyfriend at Rich O's for a couple of beers. It was very nice indeed to see my sister who's become quite a stranger to me this past year. Also nice was to get another chance to get to know her boyfriend who my sister seems crazy about.
There were a couple of other highlights to the evening. For one, LaptopGirl made an appearance. She's still very cute in a dorky way - quite intriguing. Also making an appearance tonight were DooRagGirl and her husband. DooRagGirl may be pretty much the perfect woman for me - back when I was in my late 20s. We spent a while talking while her husband talked to CoffeeDude.
Besides my usual Cone Smoker, I had another beer with the word "Thumper" in the name. For a beer featured during a hop festival this wasn't bad at all. Very close to the "lipshitz Goze" or whatever it was I had a couple of weeks ago.
Well the Kentuckiana area can breathe a sigh of relief tonight. Insight Communications has finally notified TiVo of their rrecent lineup change where they switch WAVE to channel 6.
Took them long enough.
I've reimplemented the Site Search Function, accessible from the main page.
Maybe I'll add some bells and whistles someday.
Happy Birthday to my Grandmother, Dorothy Siltz!
Two times in three weeks our local NBC affiliate WAVE has changed cable channels. My TiVos caught the first change after a couple of days. The second change has gone unnoticed by TiVo for a week now.
I tried to call TiVo today to complain about this, but they wouldn't even talk to me without my TiVo serial number. Since I called from work I didn't exactly have that number handy. I decided to go to their web page to send them a complaining e-mail, and wouldn't you know it, you can't even send them an e-mail without your serial number.
Had to wait until I got home to call. They blame my cable company for not notifying them of the second lineup change, so I called Insight to ask them to do so.
My question is, "Am I the only Insight customer in the Louisville area with a Tivo?" I can't believe nobody else has called to complain about the lineup error before me.
I've got the site search function working - but not well enough to implement it yet.
I need to decide how much of a matching page to display. I could chose to display only the matching line(s), I could add in a couple of lines before and after the match, or I could just display the entire page.
Whatever decision I make I'll probably change the 'blog search function to display the same amount on a match.
I should have this ironed out within a few days.
Had to remove the site search function that was provided by my hosting company as I found it was searching everything and there's no way to configure it to skip the 'blogs.
I'll need to either write a new site search function or (more likely) create a combined function to search the site and/or 'blogs.
...there's good beer.
Cone Smoker is back! After a couple of weeks of suckiness Rich O's has moved onto a new batch of Cone Smoker and it's got the smoke once again.
What a delicious brew! My only complaint and this is only because I'm such a lightweight, is that at 7.3% ABV the Cone Smoker beer is a little too strong for me to build an evening around it. Two 20oz. glasses and I'm done.
Despite the high gravity, I'm still delighted to see Cone Smoker back in its enjoyable form. I've now tasted four distinct batches, and experienced three distinct tastes. To review:
Batch #1: Good, well balanced, with a good smoky taste.
Batch #2: Very strong smoke flavor, a little too strong at first but by the end of the glass the smoke seems just right. Very good batch. My favorite of all.
Batch #3: No smoke at all. Hoppy taste predominates. If I wanted high gravity and hoppy taste I'd just order an Arrogant Bastard.
Batch #4: See batch #1.
This beer is rapidly becoming one of my favorites. Once they pick a style and stick with it it may even surpass Alaskan Amber as my all-time favorite beer.
Tonight, in between glasses of Cone Smoker, I also tried a pint of BBC's Bearded Pat's Barleywine Ale.
This was my first taste of a barleywine, and I suppose it was okay. Just imagine regular wine without any grapey taste, and add a hint of hops. That's what tasted like. It was okay, but I cannot imagine having more than one in an evening. This has been described to me as a "World-class Barleywine" and I trust the source of that recommendation. I'll just add barleywine to the list of beer styles that I've tries and found acceptable but not great.
As a frequent traveler to Alaska during the 1990s, I grew to love one particular Alaska product even more that its spectacular scenery. Alaskan Amber beer was first thrust upon me in a small bar in Juneau and I've loved it ever since. when I can get it.
The problem with living in Indiana is that even the best source for beer (Rich 0's) cannot get me this fine brew, so I've managed to find several other beers that I like almost as much as Alaskan Amber.
Usually my substitute was Newcastle Brown Ale, an excellent beer in its own right. But recently, and for some reason that I cannot fathom even though they tried to explain it to me, Rich O's pulled Newcastle draft from its rotation.
It was about then that I recalled the little tag at the bottom of Alaskan Amber's bottles - "Alt Style Beer" - and something clicked. "Alt" is a class of beer, not just a marketing gimmick. I quickly remember that Louisville's own Bluegrass Brewing Co. has its own beer called BBC Alt.
Well Rich O's didn't have this on tap but they do carry it bottled so I ordered one. Wow. This stuff is so close to the Alaskan Amber that I've been missing that I've been kicking myself for not discovering it sooner. Since then I've made it a point to go to the BBC BrewPub once a month or so to enjoy some real Alt beer on tap.
(draft) That nice copper color was a welcome sight to an old altbier drinker. This beer has a pretty good balance - maybe a little on the bitter side. I also think it's changed a little for the worse since the brewery split apart several months ago.
Last weekend I heard two things about the BBC. They've got a second location in downtown Louisville - much closer to both my home and to my favorite pool hall - and they're experiencing some kind of split within their company. Last night I went to the closer location and enjoyed some BBC Alt on tap. It was as good as ever. The bartender wasn't clear (or wouldn't tell me) which BBC faction would end up with the Alt after the split. It's probably their biggest seller and I'm sure both sides want it.
Just finished paying my cable, satelite, and telephone bills via the Internet. When needed I can also use the 'Net to pay for my credit card, insurance, and magazine subscriptions. Hell, I can even pay my taxes online if I want.
In fact, the only major payee that I still need to physically mail a check to each month is my electic company. This is made even more of a pain by the fact that I've got something going on with my mail and I only get a bill every couple of months.
This is 2003 people! Just because you're stuck in West Bunghole, Indiana doesn't mean you can't get with the times and offer online bill payment.