Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Ale


Beer Style: American/ imperial IPA

Taste: extremely hoppy; slightly bitter

Aroma:  sweet malt mixed with hops

Look: light brown

Alcohol percentage: 8% aba

This is my first beer review, which I hope to do on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.  I will try to review a variety of different beers including commercial beers, my personal homebrewed beers, and friend’s homebrewed beers.  If you know a beer I should try or brew beer yourself, please send it to me for a review.

I am a fan of big hop aroma and flavor in a beer, but I believe that some IPAs and double IPA’s go too far into the bitter category.  This beer exists in a nice in-between realm.  It is made with a hop extract, which according to the bottle is not something that is normally recommended in craft brew.  It has a deep hop scent and a nice hop flavor, that doesn't quite match the aroma.   I think it is an easy drinking beer for a 8% aba beer.  After drinking a full 22 its bitterness becomes evident.  The only other beer that I’ve had that has this strong of hops and flavor was a special release beer that I had at the Anderson Valley Beer festival, that Lagunitas tapped on limited release because they dry-hopped the keg and it was incredible.

I enjoyed this beer, and I enjoy many Lagunitas beers because of their hop content, their flavor and their individual mythology.

Grade: A-

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Delight.

I just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s latest, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.


I picked it up off of the library’s display shelves, thinking that I might get to it, being that I have been reading a lot lately about food and the environment, including The $64 tomato and The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  As it turned out, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I ended up forcing my girlfriend Meghan to read it, and feeding off my friend Anne’s responses to it.

Its an easy read about Kingsolver and her families’ transition to a local diet based around an old family farm in Virginia.  It discusses each of the trials and joys through a year of growing and raising their own food, and basing their diet on seasonal foods.  Not only does it include her poetic prose about how wonderful it can be, but it also brings in two different perspectives, her husband and teen daughter.   along with their points of views, the reader is treated to a set of recipes that follow the families’ year.

I felt that the book was informational, enjoyable, and easy to follow.  I’m sure that it helped that I am currently procuring a garden and it discussed some of the things that I have come up against like too many squash to handle.  To me it read like a softer and more positive perspective on the slow food movement and Michael Pollen’s Omnivores Dilemma .

I thought that the lifestyle they live is interesting and even attainable to us city folk, but it does have its pitfalls.  In an economy like ours, even though we may want to focus on the environment and local organic agriculture, it is extremely difficult.  There are many discussions about how to truly change the way food is consumed we need to make it accessible to all, including the poor and disadvantaged.   The government’s food stamp program now works at farmer’s markets, but its difficult to justify a purchase of a small bag of vegetables you might get from a farmer’s market compared to the two bags you might acquire from a cheap supermarket.  Growing food is also surprisingly easy, but its difficult to have enough land or sunlight to grow enough for a family of 4. 

After reading this book, I have changed the way I look at food and will change my diet based on seasonal and local vegetables (that I can afford).  But I think we need to continue to look for ways to bring these ideals to the mainstream lowest common denominator.  With the way things are going, we will develop these things through need not want or personal philosophy

Listening to Boards Of Canada

Monday, August 10, 2009

Waltzing with Bashir

Last night, I finally took the time to Waltz with Bashir.  Its been sitting on my coffee table for a little over a week now.  Meghan and I really wanted to watch it, but knew that it would be an intense viewing experience, so we waited for the right time.  And after a oppressively hot day, that time came:

In the first few frames of this movie, we knew we were in for a treat.  The opening scene was images of vicious dogs running amok on a town only to terrorize a man living in the upper story of an apartment building.  I was of course trying to connect the metaphor of the dogs with the powers of War.  It turned out to be a mans dream, a constructed recollection of the Lebanon War. The man was assigned to shoot dogs as they approached a village so that villagers wouldn't be aware of their entrance.  One night he shot 28 dogs and each of them came to visit him in a dream.

The rest of the movie flowed in a similar manner, between documentary-style interviews and the seeming acid-induced memories of war.  The use of Animation played an important part in the construction of the film.  And its cut from animation to real shots at the end has a deafening effect.

Dreams, reality, PTSD, and memories all collided in peoples re-telling of their individual war stories, while the director/writer of the film tried to piece together his fractured memory of the Sabra and Shatilla Massacre, through other men’s recollections.

The Film brought up very real aspects of war, the kind of things that we don't often see or want to see in a war movie.  It showed the weakness and fragility of the soldiers, it showed the incoherent destruction that war brings, and it really personified how PTSD works. 

I was floored by the integration of the images and sounds of the film:  Water and its symbolism ran throughout the film, guns took literal and figurative meaning as guitars, phalluses, and fragility. Music played an important part in the ebb and flow of the film: specifically a scene in which the soldiers are being hunted by a young boy with an RPG and a classical waltz plays and a dance that encapsulates the insanity of war and the title of the film.

From what little I do know about the conflicts that happen in Israel and Palestine, I entered this viewing experience with a critical eye.  I didn't want  an unfair view of what is happening, I believe that the film also has a very critical viewpoint.

I believe this is required viewing for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of what war is. 

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Healthy Diversion from the job search pt 2

a video of the big sur highway

I met Phil on the road in two different random places. I first ran into him as I was riding to the grocery store in Santa Cruz, and he inspired me to get on the road. I later passed him in San Simeon. He was a teacher traveling from Vancouver to Mexico, and had quite a story to tell, but the thing that stood out to me the most was this: I asked him what was the best part of his trip wondering which part of the coast was most stunning and he said, “All the wonderful people I’ve met.” And it clicked, that was the true reason I decided to go on this trip. He had dealt with loneliness, and a knee injury, but had overcome it and is probably in Mexico or on the border as I write.

David and Jacob

I also met David, and his son Jacob. They were a father son duo who, every year rode from SF to Pismo beach for a family get together. They were the most joyful people that I have met in a long time. David Told stories about traveling and giggled like a school boy. He was honestly interested in everyone’s story who was traveling through. And his son Jacob (I hope the name is right) is a Paramedic who volunteers for Rock medicine through the Haight-Ashberry free clinic. He insisted on going on a bike beer run and having a fire, being that this was their last night on the road. We drank, ate, and enjoyed each other’s company in Morro Bay. I stopped the daily poems on this day, to make room for conversation.

Suzanne and Christopher- Canadian cyclists going for the border- both teachers-one unemployed

The next day was hot and long. I rode through San Luis Obisbo and into Santa Barbara County. There were some monster hills and the heat was demeaning after all of the coastal cool weather. I passed and re-passed a training group from Santa Barbara who had a support vehicle, and didn’t even change their own tires. I camped alone in Gaviota State beach after riding about 93 miles. I definitely was able to tell the difference between central and southern California. There were bigger roads, more cars, and drier climates, and less trees. I slept well that night and rode the remaining 30 miles to my friend Christopher’s house in Santa Barbara.

Christopher was my neighbor in Humboldt County. I hadn’t seen him in a long time. It was a momentous reunion. He is a wonderful man. He showed me around his peaceful sanctuary of an apartment, and we sat and discussed life and politics with his female friend. We ate an amazing watermelon, cherry tomatoes, and some of the most amazing popcorn that I have ever had. (Christopher dressed it up with his brand of natural ingredients)

Later that night we shared songs on the guitar and a great six-pack of beer from the north coast brewing company. He and I have very similar taste in music as he is an avid Bob Dylan, Ray Lamontagne, White Buffalo, and Eddie Vedder fan.

Late that night my beautiful girlfriend, Meghan drove in from Santa Cruz. I decided to spend the weekend in Santa Barbara with her instead of continuing down the coast. We stayed up late and talked more about the past, the present, the state of education, the economy, and materialism that afflicts our society.

The next day the three of us walked endlessly around downtown Santa Barbara. We had an amazing meal in one of the local cafes, and walked along the wharf, the beach, the thrift stores, and up and down state street. Meghan and I saw the so-cal-ness that we hadn’t seen since we lived in San Diego. There were men driving bright red sports cars up and down the strip, overly processed people with Botox, silicone, and everything in between. But we loved the sunshine, the good company, and the incredible Spanish colonial architecture that makes Santa Barbara beautiful.

That night and the next day I spent exclusively with Meghan. We spent the morning in Santa Barbara and then trekked over the hills to the ine country of Santa Ynez Valley. We stopped in some small towns and tasted wine at two different wineries. We even visited the Danish town of Solvang and had ice cream.

We’ve tried to separate ourselves from the high-brow wine culture that we sometimes look down upon, but damn, was this wine good! It makes two buck chuck taste like kool-aid.
At the end of the weekend, as we were driving home, I think both of us felt at peace. The sun was setting, we had escaped the pressures and stresses that come with layoffs and unemployment. Returning to Santa Cruz felt good, but with the return comes reality: Get a job! Do something! Figure out your life! And with that our journey continues…

Wave music ebbs and flows with meditative churns of the bike
Friendship and connection forms tribes of cycle nomads
In the perfect clime of a Santa Barbara sunset
Love, community, health, beauty all become one

A healthy Diversion from the job search pt 1

As you may or may not know, last week, I set out to ride about 300 miles more of the pacific coast that I didn't cover with my friend Perry last summer. It was a needed reprieve from the lackluster world of online job hunting.

I chose to break this entry into two pieces because of its length. Im hope you enjoy it albeit is a bit long, but it was a much needed reflection.

I set out in the afternoon on Monday without much preparation (not like me at all) and rode from Santa Cruz to Monterey. It was a difficult ride through headwinds and strawberry fields. It was gray and cold (here on the coast its foggy and cold when it's hot inland). Id didn’t see any other bikers and I highway one brought the smell of dead fish, pelican poop, and exhaust. The campground in Monterey is on a hill above town. Its a steep climb to end the ride on, but when I arrived, I was greeted with a, "hooray, you made it."

It came from a lovely traveling woman from Texas. I say traveling because her plight was a bit of a mystery to me. She was well-educated, in her 60s, a lively discussionist, and a self-proclaimed artist, yet she slept on a tarp with a sleeping bag, (cowgirl style as she called it). She gave me a bit of advice in the job search: decide on a passion and volunteer, live humbly and eventually you will get to do what you love.

the short poem i wrote for the day went like this:

Dark, breathless sun hides
wind, fog, loneliness haunt the skyline
Nightime brings laughter, cheer, beauty.

After chatting with her amongst others including a number of teachers, I went to bed and slept heavily preparing for my ride through Big Sur.

One of the things that drew me to this ride was the want to rider through the coastline around Big Sur. I grew up visiting this place with my family, and I have always wanted to experience what I think is the most beautiful expanse of road in the world on a bike. And it did not fail to inspire.

The road brought more fog, cold , and hills, but it was stunning. Everytime I stopped people talked to me to find out where I was going. I ate lunch by the Big Sur river, and had very little problems climbing the big hills through the day. I stopped at Kirk Creek campground and was very lucky to camp on the cliffs above the ocean. That night I hung out with some Australian cyclists, who had ridden all over the world. We bathed in the cool ocean, and discussed linguistics and world politics over dinner. That night I also met an artist couple who was travelling around the west coast on motorcycle, and I reconvened with a lovely Canadian couple who I kept running into throughout the trip. I think they were trying to ditch me, but just couldn’t.

The second poem went like this:

Jagged Cliffs haunt a solitary coastline

Riding like the wind through innumerable beauty

Moments of perfect silence on the Big Sur Highway

The next day was another incredible day. I left early so I was gifted with a completely empty highway for at least the first few hours of the trip. Then I rode into the sun and into the San Simeon area, where I was expecting a phonecall. I rode into Cambria for lunch and set up camp to get my phonecall. As soon as a I got comfortable and turned on my phone, I realized that Cambria was complete and total dead spot. I asked around and found out that I would have to ride 5 miles back to San Simeon, where Hearst runs the airwaves to get service. So I packed up and re-traced my ride to relax on the side of the highway just to get a phonecall from EDD. That night I made it to Morro Bay to be treated with some new friends who were continuing and finishing their rides.

Ever Been to Harmony, Ca?

Twitter Feeds from My Bike Trip

Just in case you missed my posts here are my Twitter feeds from my bike trip from Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara:

The web address once again is www.twitter.com/redmorningdirt

  • Back home from a beautiful trip, feeling rejuvenated, but have a lot to clean. Oh yeah and I gotta get a job.6:52 PM Aug 3rd from web
  • In Santa Barbara- good friends, good times, good music- life is good.12:27 PM Aug 1st from txt
  • Serious day today about 90 miles just outside of santa barbara eating like a king tuna bean vegetable burritos campground gourmet!7:58 PM Jul 30th from txt
  • "CA will always remind me of smells: strawberries, eukalyptus, gas, and pine." canadian cyclist Suzanne11:03 AM Jul 30th from txt
  • People looking at me funny as I eat pb and bannana sandwich in slo11:01 AM Jul 30th from txt
  • A gentle Japanese man recounts stories of world travel and tacos round the fire.10:35 PM Jul 29th from txt
  • The quiet of big sur gave way to sunshine and pieces of chaos warm fire friend and beer end d3 perfectly10:32 PM Jul 29th from txt
  • D3 sitting on the side of the road on Cambria searching for cell service.2:02 PM Jul 29th from txt
  • D2 big sur jagged cliffs solitary coastline riding like the wind. Moments of perfect silence on hwy12:01 PM Jul 29th from txt
  • Drinking Coffee in Carmel, bitter delicious coffee. Is there anything better?8:55 AM Jul 28th from Twitterrific
  • sc to Monterey: dy 1 cold fog and annoying wind make pedaling hard through the strawberry fields. But Good people at the site mend days w ...9:27 PM Jul 27th from txt
  • Going on a bike tour to Santa Barbara or beyond. Hope it goes well.1:09 PM Jul 27th from txt