Dogfish and Craft Brewing

“We are trying to explore the outer edges of what beer can be,” Calagione says. But the idea makes even some craft brewers nervous. “I find the term ‘extreme beer’ irredeemably pejorative,” Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, told me recently. “When a brewer says, ‘This has more hops in it than anything you’ve had in your life—are you man enough to drink it?,’ it’s sort of like a chef saying, ‘This stew has more salt in it than anything you’ve ever had—are you man enough to eat it?”

Read it all.

Howto: Smoke a Cigar

After having a romance with cigars on and off for a year, I finally figured it out.

The one that busted my cigar cherry was la aurora barrel aged.

Fantastic stuff.

For all I wrote about smoking hookah, cigars were more macho and had the added ability of being portable. I had smoked a pipe on and off also, but the pipe tobacco never turned me on as much as the hookah.

There’s something inherently macho about smoking a cigar. Maybe it’s the early episodes of I Love Lucy where Dizzy Arnez smoked a cigar, or maybe it’s every World War 2 general with a chewed up one hanging out, but the machismo of it was always there for me.

The flavor, however, was not.

Filthadelphia here is famous for the Philly Blunt.

These are terrible, terrible cigars and I’ve come to realize that the people who smoke them do so for the wrapper. Take that how you will. It is not a good indication of a locally made product or even something you would like to consume in general. If you’re going to get into this, spend a little to get a lot. The la auroras are about $5/per.

To actually get the flavor out of a cigar, it’s the opposite of smoking a cigarette, but it’s the same idea behind the hookah. You’re not trying to burn the tobacco, you’re trying to “cook it”.

The Howto:

  1. Buy a decent cigar cutter. The plastic ones have never worked for me. If you have a razorblade, use that.
  2. Take the cigar cutter and examine the closed end of the cigar. This is called “the cap”. There’s a bit of a raised portion where they rolled it where the cap meets the body. You want to cut the cigar to leave this raised portion, and you don’t want to split the wrapper, so give yourself maybe a quarter inch of cap against the body.
  3. Put some spit in there. Not to soak it, but you do want the tobacco at the end to expand a bit to make a semblance of a filter.
  4. Take your lighter (butane/propane is OK, unlike what hellboy will tell you), and toast the end. This is where you evenly heat the end of the cigar to glowing. It may help to toke at this point but it will taste like crap.
  5. You want to barely keep the end lit. Toke a bit to “draw in” the cigar. What you’re doing is establishing ash on the end. The ash workes like a charcoal fire, it lets you very slowly draw on it while keeping the tobacco under it lit without being too hot. Do not ash a cigar.
  6. You’re doing it right if you get “spicy” and “hot” flavors from the cigar. It seems they need about an inch of ash on them before you can start tasting.
  7. When you start barely seeing a glow from the end when you take a slow draw and the ash is established, you will notice the “spicy” goes away and the cigar “cools down”. Literally. Now is the time to slowly draw the smoke in your mouth to start tasting it. The La Auroras I was smoking offered up a different flavor each draw.
  8. Roll the smoke around in your mouth, and also try drawing with your tongue in different places for different flavors. I was pleasantly suprised when I touched my tongue to the top of my mouth between draws and got “chocolate” flavor.
  9. When the cigar is about halfway done, the ash will fall off. See step six. You probably won’t need to retoast the cigar, but when you lose the ash you lose the flavor.
  10. Finally, when the cigar goes “sour”, you have two choices. The sour is from the humidity. Either be done smoking, or retoast the cigar to finish it. I found the La Auroras just gave me a “tea” flavor. While pleasant, it wasn’t terribly interesting.

Other tips:

  • The labels are thermally activated. It’s not uncommon to have them simply fall off once the cigar warms up. Make no attempt to smoke the label, but trying to get them off before the cigar heats up usually breaks the wrapper.
  • If you own guns or can bum a shell off someone, take a shell casing and sharpen it. Push a knife into the throat point-first and rotate to create a sharp rim. It’s an easy cap-cutter now and the perfect size.

Gears of War 2 Update

The GoW2 update is out and I’ve got mixed feelings about it.

The shotgun feels more solid. If you’re shooting someone and they’re in the crosshairs, you’ll hit them, especially on particularly laggy matches. The effect is occasionally disorienting – you will be shooting at someone while they’re running and they’ll run right past you, only to explode in a hail of gore over your shoulder. You score the hit, but there’s a delay confirming it and it renders their corpse whereever they were when they fell, which isn’t always where you shot at them.

The old really bad cheats are fixed – no more invisible shield or wielding a two handed weapon with one hands (carrying a shield or hostage). They added the ability to chainsaw the hostage, so no longer can you pick one up and be invincible from the chainsaw. On the other hand, it’s a bit of a gift since the old strategy was to beat them to death with the pistol while your hostage got shot up. If they’re holding tight chainsawing your hostage, you can whip out the shotgun and point blank them or beat them down with the pistol for a brand new hostage!

The flamethrower also sets both the hostage and hostage taker on fire.

The rules of ANNEX changed to EXECUTION (same as King of the Hill) which really pisses me off since the old strategy on ANNEX was to take the hammerburst, down someone at a distance and then rush the ring. Now you can down someone, but you’re across the map so it doesn’t really do anything for you and they can’t bleed out. It promotes camping and power weapons.

Grenades got a bump, the gas cloud is definitely larger and more dangerous. They spawn less frequently.

One thing they didn’t fix which does piss me off – Smoke grenades can still bounce you through laser fences (and into the walls of some levels). Playing Security almost guarantees someone will do this.

They “sort of” fixed the wall in hail where a player could fire through it. They also fixed the boomshot’s arc when blindfired so you won’t kill yourself immediately, but it now arcs high. They “sort of” fixed the flip, but you can still do it on some map objects (security).

Stuff I totally hate: Grenade (and power-weapons) won’t respawn until the original instance is cleaned up. This prevents some crap where the two (or more) people on the team can lock down a map with two hammer of dawns, but for things like the sniper rifle, it’s a pain.

You can read it all here, I’m sure both people who read my blog will care to comment.

Post Deer Season Wrapup and One Year Homebrew

The last day of flintlock hunting and I’m empty handed. Not from lack of effort, mind you, but more from the weather. There’s a reason they didn’t fight battles in the civil war when it was the middle of a snowstorm.

My brother and I had been hunting the farm all day. I was using the flintlock but having serious doubts about this being a good idea. The problem was a constant wind (I’ve never winded the flintlock, I had no idea what the drift was) and when they called for six inches of snow, they were talking about “over the course of the day”. It was snowing when we got there, there were periods of hail, and it was snowing at sunset.

I had followed a deer trail from one side of the farm to the other end, the deer was there but having seen no deer beds and nothing but tracks, I doubted the deer was stopping. Given the weather I figured it might have gone to the pines on the far side but it went straight through. I knew the tracks were recent because they were on top of the snow but since the deer didn’t bed down, it wasn’t waiting for me or anything else. I took this as an opportunity to hike around the other areas to check for tracks or beds. Even in the places you would expect to find deer (acorn mast), there were no tracks and no beds. I checked mostly point to point, there’s no sense in line hunting alone. My brother doesn’t own a flintlock and has no interest in it so he was out with a shotgun for small game.

I had resigned myself to sitting on top of a hill in some light cover waiting to see if the deer would circle around. I had about 1h30m until sunset, so I figured it would be cold and boring. It managed to be both. With single digit temperatures in the valley and windchill on top of that, taking off my gloves to type on my phone quickly turned into OH GOD MY FINGERS ARE SO COLD THEY HURT. I was never so pleased with shoving my hands down my pants in public as I was Saturday on that hill.

Suddenly, a deer! Hunting goes from slowly poking around to sheer excitement with nothing in between when game is found. My brother was up the next hill over chasing a snowshoe hare when a deer came crashing through the bushes trying to avoid him. The deer was as suprised he was there as he was suprised he nearly got run down by the deer. I had heard the whole thing and suddenly my well placed stand with brush behind me became a liability as I tried to bring the gun around. I finally brushed the snow off the sights and found a lane to shoot through. I pulled the trigger and…

I actually watched the spark blow sideways off the frizzen and fall into the snow. George Washington’s ghost was laughing at me.

I reset the lock rested the gun again, and once again pulling the trigger lost the spark in the wind. I was trying to fire between gusts but deer rarely sit still and my firing lane was crowded anyway. There was a very real chance the deer would spook, especially since the lock isn’t exactly quiet and the delay between sparking and firing is enough to let the deer “jump the string” over enough distance. Given this was about a 50 yard shot, I was worried. One more spark in the snow.

Ripping my hat off, I supported the front of the gun on a thorn bush, aimed, then put my hat over the pan. This time the spark landed in the pan, but didn’t catch. By now the flint and frizzen were getting polished, where the face of the flint matches the frizzen so well it can no longer scrape the surface. Figuring I needed fresh powder I took down the gun and opened the lock to see that my pan had collected a layer of snow with all this false firing. I dumped out the pan and cleaned the rest with my fingers, which were now hurting again since I had discarded my gloves to help with the aiming and priming.

I pulled the powder tube over the pan and pressed the button. Nothing came out. Looking down the tube, it was also filled with snow, and to make matters worse the button to dispense powder bound in the down position. If George Washington were laughing before, his entire regiment was laughing now. I started to look for a place to lay the flintlock before realizing that six inches of snow is more than enough to lose a rifle in. I resigned to holding it across my chest in my elbows while I unscrewed the powder horn’s lid. I managed to dump powder into the pan wholesale (and all over me and the ground with the wind) and shove the horn in the snow upright with the lid laid on top.

Bringing the sites back onto the deer I see… Nothing. The deer probably winded me because she took of running away from my stand and onto the neighbors property, far and away from the longing sights of my gun.

The woods win again.

But all wasn’t lost, my brother shot a squirrel at about 25 yards, I was suprised he connected with it. We took it home as our only prize that day.

Dad always lightly fried up squirrels in butter, but Dad also really sucked at the whole preparing the other white meat. His squirrels always came out too small and cut to hell. There had to be a better way – and there was! In a stroke of brilliance, he prepped the squirrel shirt-and-pants, soaked the blood out, and what could we replace the blood with? BUTTER. How do we get it there? 15PSI. What do we use? PRESSURE COOKERS.

“But butter is insufficient!” you say?
ADD BACON.

The squirrel, now stuffed with bacon and butter, went into the pressure cooker along with about a half cup of water. We didn’t want to completely die. Actually we just wanted to hydrogenate that oil, as hydrogenated oil is the most flavorful of all the oils. Put the lid on, set it for chicken (lower heat) and let it roll for 20 minutes. The result was a forkable culinary delight. I could hear my brothers heart from across the room as he enjoyed the bounty of the woods.

To celebrate the end of deer season, I pulled out my mad elf clone. It had been sitting in the fridge lagering for an entire year, and this was the last growler from last year. How was it? Completely lacking in carbonation, which pissed me off. The growler top gave up at some point and all the carbonation seeped out. However, it wasn’t oxidized. The cherries were completely gone, but it was still tart, and very dry on the finish almost to the point of mouth puckering. It would have passed wonderfully well for a lambic if I chose to blend it. With it’s new status as a barleywine, we both enjoyed a pint before realizing it had refermented in the bottle. The ABV had gone through the roof, and after a pint and a half we were well on our way to being sloshed.

FreeBSD 7.1 is FailBSD 7.1

Good fucking god. Do you think the FreeBSD folks would, at some point, think “gee if we used Linux UIs, we might attract more than two users!”

For the most part it’s a fairly standard affair. It installs in VMWare, it works with VMWare tools, and nothing from previous FreeBSD releases is broken. Unlike Solaris in recent years, FreeBSD has managed not to change too much of the core functionality so FreeBSD fans won’t feel like they broke it. FreeBSD still keeps the look and feel of releases past, so anything you liked about the 6.x series is carried over. There’s where the rub is though, it’s almost all carried over.

New Linux distributions have, at very least, done a few things like fill in sensible defaults, provide wizards when needed, and provided basic X configuration. FreeBSD still has none of this. The wizards are rough and don’t prompt with defaults, X config is still done with xconfig (oops, xorgconfig). You can use Xorg -config for the configuration if you want it Linuxy but it’s still only going to guess. Accelerated support is done with the wonky Linux Compatibility Layer, playing with the fglrx build gave me wonky results. Radeon worked fine, so you have something to fall back on but everything you’re looking for in a desktop (composite, nice fonts) is missing. This may be related to the radeon driver, I’m not entirely sure.

KDE 4.1 comes as a port, you can install it but it’s missing everything that would make it into a usable desktop. Printer configuration? Not even basic KDE printing queues are available for configuration. Sound? Nope. Speed? Terrible. It takes twice as long to start compared to Linux. Samba is particularly bad – the wizard for mounting windows shares is actually there but unless you have all the requirements installed in FreeBSD before you try to use it, it just dies with a bunch of errors about not being able to find the share. This is bad, because the problem is really that Samba isn’t installed.

I can’t help but feel like it’s getting the most awesomest Christmas present ever – then finding out it doesn’t work.

Oh, did I mention there’s no openoffice?