Blue Point Toxic Sludge Black IPA

My brother and his sweet gf showed up at my place today.  Wisely, they came bearing gifts.  Wiser, they came in the form of tasty and interesting beer.  His lady is from Long Island, NY, home of Blue Point Brewing Company.  And a town called Blue Point.  Anyways, I’m quite impressed with the first beer I’ve tasted from them.

Personally, I prefer calling it Cascadian Dark.  But we know what they’re talking about.  This tasty treat out of Long Island has a chocolate malt aroma and a full body.  A deep caramel brown color, the appealingly-named Toxic Sludge carries a nice head.  The dark roasted malts are clean, but the roast lingers with a hint of coffee until my next taste.  There’s a nice balance of bitterness, I wouldn’t mind a bit more overt hoppiness, but really this is a delicious blend of bitter and sweet, perhaps lacking just a bit of crispness for the sweet body.  But sacrifices must be made.

Blue Point Toxic Sludge
Toxic Sludge in a glass

Impressively, Blue Point is donating a significant amount of the proceeds to a bird rescue for a wildlife response rescue.  Which is awesome.  And in doing so, they’re producing a delicious Cascadian Dark for people like me to enjoy.  Seeing as I’ll be on Long Island this summer, I have something to look forward to.

A nice selection

This is the second New York non-city brewery to impress me.  Southern Tier has some amazing brews, and I’m looking forward to trying more from Blue Point.

Thanks Joanne and bro (and family of Joanne).  cheers.

rick

The holding pattern

Well, today was the due date. I haven’t talked about it much, but N and I are expecting a little girl here anytime. She’s been a trooper, we went out to a Christmas party last night, walked to NePo42 for a tasty breakfast.  She got gorgeous fluffy pancakes with apple (real apples hunks…bigger than chunks) and I got the biscuits and gravy and a bloody mary.  Augie got pet but no food.

The baby holding pattern is a weird stage in life.  I mean, it could happen at any time.  But it might not happen for days or even weeks.  In the meantime, you go about your business, but as Michael Lewis suggests in Home Game, it’s a good goal for the father to not show up to the birth drunk.  So, I’m trying to limit it to a friendly buzz.

So we’re trying get things together around the house, I’ve been playing a lot of video games, and we’re just hanging out.  Not a bad way to go, I suppose.

New toy review: Flip Mino HD

I recently received my new Flip camera.  I ordered online and got the custom design.  Sorta half-assed that, but that’s okay.  The first thing I noticed about it after picking it up is that it is lighter than I’d expect.  As in it feels somewhat plastic.  I immediately plugged it into my computer to charge it and play with it.  The charge happened pretty quickly, so the playing did as well.

The second thing you notice about the Mino HD is that it doesn’t have a lot of buttons.  There’s a big red one in the middle.  Must be important.  There’s right and left arrows, a plus and minus, a trash can, and a play button, none of which are tactile.  On the right is a flush button for power, and on the left is a slider that unlocks the USB.  This Flip has a place for an (mini) HDMI cable (that I don’t have) and tripod mount on the bottom.

Cleverly, the unit is entirely self-contained, with the exception of the soft sack that contains it.  Even the software comes onboard and is compatible with Mac and PC.  The movies play in Linux with mplayer, but then I have to forgo editing power, so I’ll overtax my poor old mac laptop.

The image stabilization was a key factor in my selection of this model.  I’m not looking to take Blair Witch baby movies (baby = reason I got this thing).  And I’m happy with the stabilization. It does a pretty good job and making my non-surgeon hands feel steady.

I am not happy with the non-tactile buttons.  Their placement is awkward for me, in that I hit them when I don’t want to and can’t hit them when I do.  Running the entire set down each side with a selector for right-or-left-handed operation might be an interesting way to handle it.

The screen is fine, it shows you what you’re filming, and since you can’t control anything but zoom and what you’re pointing at from where, it doesn’t matter except for framing and sanity check.  We’re not filming the next great Galifinakis film here, it’s a Flip so I can film my daughter (upcoming) and dog and send them to family and a few friends who care.

I’ve had the Flip crash on a few occasions.  Lockup, lockdown, both ways to Sunday.  One time I had to jam a paper clip into the tri hole.  That let it do a hard reset, which didn’t appear to do anything more than a plain reset (data was still there) except it worked again.  It’s a simple device and I haven’t used it that much, so it’s feeling fairly unstable so far.

The software is fine.  It seems like it might have the beginnings of some social characteristics, but I think it’ll be a pretty nice way to send stuff to the aforementioned family and friends.

Overall, I’m going to give the Flip Mino HD a C+/B-.  In some ways it’s great, but in too many ways it’s just not awesome enough.

New toy review: Amazon Kindle 3

I’m a book lover. By nature. I find flipping pages, browsing aisles, and even falling asleep on a book, to be comforting. But I’ve been eyeballing the Kindle (and the Nook and the eReader) since it came out. With the price dropping to under $150 (sans 3g), it was suddenly accessible. I started to think about it, but never quite pulled the trigger. Which was fortunate, as the lady got me one for my birthday. I was stoked and surprised.

It was smaller than I expected, and light. But it felt nice. I was enamored with the Kindle from the beginning. In some ways, the Kindle (and its ilk, perhaps) is the most amazing advance to happen to readers since Twilight. I mean the printing press. It holds a lot of books in a tiny package.

For one thing, the Kindle is awesome for travel. Instead of 4 pounds of books, I can load a few into the Kindle, along with some magazine subscriptions. And it still weighs like 5 ounces.

The screen is nice to read on. e-Ink is pretty cool…it’s a lot like reading a book. The batteries last forever. Really, the reading experience is fairly booklike.

It’s possible to jailbreak the Kindle. While Amazon is has released the KDK, it’s only available to established development firms. And one dude created KIF, Kindle Interactive Fiction, which lets people play Zork, Enchanter, and other Infocom games, in addition to tons from the IF Archive. I’m very tempted…

Unfortunately, the Kindle keyboard is barely adequate. The letters were rubbing off the within a day of ownership. The buttons have strange tactile response. I’m not too fond of the design either, having the D-pad between buttons above and below.

I’m not thrilled about the location of the paging buttons either. I’d like something on the back, maybe a movable grip of sorts. It’d be a nice accessory. I’d also like the forward/back to be be programmable…I’d like symmetry between the two, as there are books where I go forward and back a fair amount.

The Kindle store is great. IF you know exactly what you want. Otherwise it is terrible. It’s miserable to browse. I downloaded a few of the classics for free, now it thinks I don’t read anything written after 1907. I do have an Amazon account it could pull from. But it doesn’t appear to.

One of the things that I love about books is bookstores. Browsing them, recommendations, groupings, the smell, the lighting, the surprises. So far, I haven’t had any of those from the Kindle store. And that’s a huge disappointment.

Airplanes don’t understand the Kindle yet. They made me turn it off. The Kindle works the same off as on. It draws power when you press the buttons. Otherwise, it’s about like a watch. So you’re stuck reading SkyMall for the first and last 10-20 minutes of your flight.

I can’t share with the Kindle very well. Apparently, I can share, but only for like two weeks, and only so many times. I don’t like limitations like that. I like to send my books into the wild, especially the ones that I like. We have book exchanges, and this doesn’t make that easy.

I feel like a traitor when I walk into an independent bookstore. I love Powell’s and I love the other Indy booksellers and I will continue to support them.

But I was at a conference a couple weeks ago and a speaker (@eugenelee of Socialtext) called out a good book that I’d read, so when he recommended one that I hadn’t read, I purchased it in a minute from the Kindle store in the conference.

I’ve enjoyed the highlighting and notes features. There’s a very slight social nature to it, in that you can see what others have highlighted. I’d like to see this expanded. Maybe connect with people with similar interests, build reading and discussion groups, whatever. There’s a lot of power available there.

So, I’ve been pretty rough on the Kindle here. But really, I love it. Overall, I’m giving it a B. There’s plenty of room for improvement. But I like it, it’s a pleasing device, and I will continue to use it. It is nice to read on, and feels a lot like reading a book. I do like having a dedicated device for reading.

Instant Replay in Soccer

After the US’s disappointing (yet thrilling) tie against Slovenia, you can be sure that there will be a clamor for instant replay in soccer. On the surface, it seems like a great idea. Matches will end with the true winner victorious, honor will be restored to the game.

This is a terrible idea. There is a purity about soccer. 23 men on the pitch, and only a few rules on how to play the game. All you need is a ball and some friends to play.

It’s true, there are a lot of bad calls. Sometimes the referee is biased, sometimes, he’s bad, and sometimes he gets emotional. But bad calls are a part of the game. You can’t interrupt the fluidity to stick your face into a replay booth every time someone is unhappy with a call. Because the review would overturn the call too often.

In a soccer game there are 22 players on the pitch, and they are subject to the rule of one man: the referee. If the referee decides that the game should last for 112 minutes and kicking with your left foot is a foul, that’s how the game will be played. People may not be happy with it, and the ref will likely not be invited back, but that is the game that was played.

GQ’s best brews

Lisa the beer goddess has called my attention to an article in which GQ calls out the 50 best beers. These things are such a matter of opinion and experience it doesn’t make sense to argue much, but I think they hit a lot of good ones.

I’ve previously mentioned the Duchesse as a favorite. I’m also a fan of Southern Tier who didn’t make the list. Que sera.

SxSWi was a good time

and I learned a lot. And met some nice people.

There were a lot of major themes. I was happy to see the internet future includes thoughts on how all this stuff will work inside business too. As a corporate lacky, this is valuable stuff for me, and for a long time it has seemed neglected. The main focus here was around corporate culture and the roles of communities and community managers. Interesting conversations with Saul Colt and Mallory Messina. A particular surprise was the huge value I got from a brief chat with Capt. Broshear or the USAF. Challenging concepts to translate from military to business, especially in regards to openness!

Search is one of my favorite topics, and I saw a few talks on the subject. Peter Morley, author of Ambient Findability, spoke on Search Patterns. Pretty interesting stuff.

And then there is the whole where am I where are you do I care wtf do I do with that? set of presentations. Geolocation is huge and going to get much huger. Great stuff from Adam Duvander who happens to be geolocated right down the street from me, as well as Skyhook and SimpleGeo. Truly, these people get it. It was great to see, hear, and spin on this stuff.

It was great to connect with the local Portland crew. There are some good folks out there. I liked the Macallan samples and the other free stuff too!

Thanks Texas!

SxSW – what’s a beerdrinker to do?

N and I are heading down to Austin shortly to catch the SxSW interactive conference and spend some time with her sister who moved there from somewhere I didn’t want to visit about 6 months ago. So I think I can find my way around a conference. But what about the city? Any tips…beer, BBQ, texmex, or whatnot. Cheers.

PS. Just saw the Tron Legacy preview and it looks pretty awesome.

How not to get shot by the police

okay, police violence sucks. It’s a drag that unarmed people get shot. Lately, I’ve been putting together some tips I’ve picked from my years of experience not getting shot at by the police in an effort to help people avoid the short barrel of the law.

First, you can take a preemptive strike and keep the police away in general. Try to avoid situations in which housemates and loved ones feel the need to call the police in regards to you. Sometimes it’s easiest to just go to bed and apologize in the morning.

Now, it might happen that you can’t avoid the police. Like you were speeding or made a bad lane change. In that case, it’s easy to avoid getting shot at. Stay in the car. In the seat that you have been in the whole time. Keep your hands on the steering wheel. Listen to the instructions. They’ve been trained to make them simple. Things like “step out of the car” and “don’t reach for the glovebox” are good ones to act on. Slowly (we will return to this).

A really good way that I’ve learned to not get shot is to not hold a gun. You may even be able to make it through life (the long version) without owning a gun. They’re rentable, and in many places they are not actually requisite for safety. However, I appreciate your preparedness for survival after the fall. I think that it is completely possible to not get shot by the police and still own a gun. All you need to do is follow one simple rule: only get the gun out if you intend to use it. Mardi Gras parties and community theater do not count as legitimate uses.

Keep in mind that once you’ve been tagged as “having a gun” you’re going to have a tough time shaking that rep. So leave it in the shoebox away from the kids. Guns are scary to a lot of people when they pop-up in unusual situations like “watching Jeopardy”.

So, let’s say you haven’t been able to avoid the police paying you a visit. Whether it’s your house or a bank robbery, the same principles apply. First, when you’re caught you’re caught. At this point, the cops are not on your doorstep to make a judgment. They’re there to diffuse a situation. Don’t try to sweet talk out of it, and yelling isn’t going to help. Be easy to work with. Move slowly. Steady, following instructions. If they say get down, they don’t mean dance. Keep your hands visible. To the police. Avoid sudden movements like running, reaching for things, turning. And if you have a weapon, let them know with words.

You need to keep in mind that the police really don’t know what you’re thinking. When their guns are drawn, it’s because they think they may need to use them to protect themselves or innocent bystanders. At that time, it’s your job to not give them a reason.

Tomorrow’s a new day. You can sort it out then.

I’m not copaphile. They’d better have a damn good reason for pulling that trigger. I’m not happy to see cruisers on the street in general. But if someone’s incapable of following these simple steps and a tragedy occurs, it’s pretty tough for me to point a finger.