Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Christmas in July

Scroll down to the fireworks-packed giant Santa Claus in July, Make sure you wait it out for the video. It's totally worth it.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Drinkin' Lincoln

You'll find the boyhood home of Abraham Lincoln at Knob Creek. Knob Creek is handcrafted in limited quantities using time-honored recipes, aged a full nine years. The family moved to the property in 1811, attracted by the fertile land. Daring to set new standards, Knob Creek dared to look entirely different. The 230-acre farm featured a creek running through rich bottomland bordered by steep hills that resembled knobs. In an 1860 letter Lincoln stated, “Drink it with Lincoln ... and get your hands off my Knob”.

Hot on the tongue and lips, it's not as hot as you would expect for its proof. You get oak, caramel, no cherry, not much charcoal, crisp and it's not too complex. And then …. more oak. The finish is powerful and a little quick. This is quality, and it's fine neat. You don't need to dress it up.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Homage to Modest Mouse

this is an audio post - click to play

Country vs. City

It was Lucinda Williams who said, “My heart’s in the country but my mind’s in the city”, and this sums up my current state of mind. After having numerous conversations with friends about the merits of country and city---which one is better, where one should live, etc---the upshot is that even though I love the woods and water and can’t wait to get out to West Virginia soon, for mental well-being and health I’ll choose the city every time.

A close friend has recently given up on urban life after a 6-year stint as a city dweller. After a year or so of hashing through the pros and cons of both regions he’s finally made the decision to get the f’ out. What is it that he’s trying to escape? Weed-wackers outside his window at 6:00 AM? Thuggish drunks picking fights? Poor government and private services? Noise? Lazy cops? Racism? No front porch? These are his supposed reasons for moving out, but all that just sounds like a typical day in rural America, doesn’t it? Peace and quiet, he says ... True, in some cases, but I live in one of the busiest city neighborhoods and I’ve never had a problem getting to sleep due to noise. Hmm … I guess the pace of life in the country is slower and more relaxing which---I guess---is important to people who are … uh … retired …

Maybe it’s the-grass-is-greener effect.

No doubt, for people in their 20s and 30s the city is the only place that meets the need for constant mental and physical stimulation. For “peace and quiet” you can always go on a weekend backpacking trip, can’t you? Additionally, our image of the country rarely exists in 2004. The past few times I’ve been out in the sticks, it’s looked fairly suburbanized, with Best Buys and Walmarts galore. Why would you want to live around all that? Beats me. Why not just move to Montgomery County?

Buy Christopher Hitchens a Drink Online

Now you can buy Britain's polemicist alcoholic journalist a bottle of Johnnie Walker online.

No matter what you might think of him, you would never say he's boring. Most Sunday morning pundits are so smug and boring but the Hitch always lays down his thoughts with that snotty accent and paranoid anti-God rants. Years ago, my wife and I went to one of his book signings and in the middle of the Q and A session he pulls a 5th of Jim Beam out of his pocket and takes a slug before answering the next audience question.

One reason I think he inspires such intense feelings of hatred is because he is a TRUE polemicist; he holds no allegences or loyalties to the left or right. He has repeatedly said this. You think he's switched over to "the right"? It's certainly not the case. A day or two after Reagan died he was one of the first to slam the Gipper's record. Maybe that's one reason why people hate him so much: he can't be pigeonholed.

So this one's for the Hitch! Cheers!

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Mac' 'N' Malt

"1 cup macaroni
1/2 cup processed cheese sauce
2 frankfurters, sliced
1 teaspoon grated parmesan cheese

"Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. Heat cheese sauce in microwave, 1 minute. In 8 x 8 inch baking dish, combine cooked pasta, cheese sauce, sliced frankfurters and Parmesan. Stir and serve."

This is a recipe that every freshman in college can put together without effort: it's the recipe for Mac' 'N' Cheese. The reason I clipped this from the 'net is to prove a point: making beer is as easy as making macaroni and cheese for Tuesday night's bachelor dinner. You simply boil water, put the ingredients in, stir, let sit, and enjoy.

I got my brew kit about a month ago---with the idea that I would improve my whiskey-making skills by first brewing beer---and making it was about as hard as making the above college staple. Granted, it takes some sterilization skills (basically, scrubbing bottles and buckets), and you gotta co-opt a friend to help you hold the bottles steady while you siphon the raw brew in, but the mixin' and stirrin' is straight up mac' 'n' cheese no-nonsense.

My next goal is to search my town high and low for cheap, dark malt so I can make 50 bottles for under 9 bucks. If anyone has any thoughts on where to find it, let me in on how. I hear MOM's in Rockville is the place.

The upshot is there'll be no more 8-dollar six-packs for me. It's fresh brew from here on out. And all of this was done in a one bedroom basement apartment with a wife, 2 dogs and a cat!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Progress Overstated

There was a recent article in the Washington Post stating that all those cheery reports of Chesapeake Bay pollution progress over the past decades were overstated. Well, I don't know what all the numbers say but word on the street is that populations of rockfish and crabs are better than they've been in years. Anyone who reads daily fishing/crabbing reports would know that. Lip service is always paid by politicians, but who knows what the hell is being done or even if those "dead zones" really mean much. Fish and crabs are always caught in these areas no matter how much dissolved oxygen exists there. Frankly, I take all those alarmist reports with a grain of salt. The main problem always has been and will continue to be run-off from farms. Nitrogen from vehicles and development along the shore play a small role but the real villians are the farms. They've been using fertilizer for decades and decades and the ebb and flow of healthy fish and crab stocks continue. The best you can do is read fishing and crabbing reports to get a good gauge on what's going on out there. The scientists sure don't seem to know much.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Karen O. Played Me A Song Via Cell Phone

this is an audio post - click to play

Open Water

There's a new indie shark movie coming to theaters soon.

I may be totally out of line here, but I think this one could rival Jaws.

Cow Noses

This, from a discussion on about my encounter with some rays over the weekend:

Posted by L. Bruner on 12-Jul-2004 8:54:12 PM:
This weekend I was wading back to my boat in about 3 to 4 feet of water around the mouth of the Chester River and I kept stepping on some very large fish. It was pitch-black dark so I couldn't see what they were but they were so big they almost knocked me off balance several times. Felt like i was stepping on big, slippery dogs. What were these? I thought they were stingrays but wouldn't they have stung me if they were? They were too big to be flounder or catfish. Any ideas?

Posted by Fritz R. on 12-Jul-2004 9:00:16 PM:
Probably cow nosed rays. They do have a barb at the base of their tail, but they're fairly docile, and if you don't pin them down (and that's pretty hard because they're so big) or step on the barb, they probably won't hurt you. They definitely can, though.

Posted by Unknown on 12-Jul-2004 10:52:19 PM:
I don't think I would have waded back to my boat in the dark in 4 feet of water. And if I had any trouble deciding, stepping on the first large ray would have helped me make up my mind.

Posted by Chessie on 13-Jul-2004 7:05:23 AM:
I was thinking the same thing. First time I stepped on a big, slippery anything in the dark I would have been running across the surface of the water all the way back to the boat. Too many creatures out there in the world's waterways these days that have a bone to pick with me.

Posted by H2O Boss on 13-Jul-2004 10:47:58 AM:
Reminds me of sharking on AI trying to get a bait over the outer bar. You haven't lived until you've waded out to your tits with a 12' heaver with 8oz and a freshly oozing fish head as bait. Only after you've landed a few 5' sharks, and seen bigger landed...........I think I woulda needed to change my shorts if I had bumped into anything, much less repeatedly.

Meatball Surgery

It’s not often that you find yourself in a position where a half-drunk best friend is sewing stitches into your leg but that’s exactly where I found myself this weekend.

During the 2nd annual Celebration of Life Weekend---or more precisely, a 4-day bender that included some sailing---we stopped by the quaint Chestertown, Maryland. Mason, Rollin and I had motored the 10 miles up the Chester River to visit Mason’s college buddy, Dustin. Dustin was at his parents’ estate, situated right on the river, complete with views of sunsets, flowing green reeds, and the Route 213 drawbridge that we had just come under. Being a doctor, Dustin’s father has made quite a life for himself on that river.

As Saturday evening fell, we decided that the crabs we'd eaten had digested enough to go for a stroll through the pitch-black countryside. We headed out, drinks in hand, toward the cornfields and darkness of the outskirts of Chestertown. Finishing my drink, I stowed the tumbler glass in my pocket. As we approached the edge of the cornfield the conversations turned to movies like “Signs” and “The Blair Witch Project”. Feeling the need to behave like little boys, we played the game of who-can-scare-the-other-guy-the-most. As I lunged out from the edge of the cornfield to scare Rollin, I fell right on that damned bourbon glass which shattered in my pocket with the force of body hitting ground. As I stood up, I felt that unmistakable warm drip and trickle of blood down my leg and onto my bare feet. Lifting my pant leg exposed the biggest and deepest cut I’d ever seen on my body. We’re talking about 1 inch wide by half-an-inch deep, splayed open for all to see.

Not wanting to go to the emergency room and not having an insurance card on me, we decided that Dustin’s little sister should snag her dad’s doctor’s office keys and that Mason would sew me up there (Mason is a Physician’s Assistant, having spent the last few years stitching people up almost daily).

As we walked into the doctor’s office, cigarettes in hand, everyone set to work trying to find litocane (painkiller), rubber gloves, gauze and stitching. Meanwhile, I lay on the table in my black briefs, while the sticky blood was wiped off me. The first thing I then felt was Mason rubbing alcohol-soaked gauze through the bloody gash before he injected me with painkiller. In no time he set to the business of nervously sewing 5 stitches into the side of my leg.

Finishing up, we locked the office and walked a block to the nearest bar so as not to interrupt the flow of the evening.

My sincere thanks go out to all involved. You saved me a trip to the damned ER and gave me a story that I’m sure my wife is going to get very sick of hearing. Cheers!

Friday, July 02, 2004

Mucking About

Lord. It's been nearly a year since I've spent a full twelve hours doing back-breaking physical labor under the mid-day sun. Having worked in an office setting for most of my adult life, I don't often get the chance to experience what most of what the other half does on a daily basis. Today, I left the house at 8:30 in the morning and arrived back home at nine at night. I spent that time mucking about around my boat, and it kicked my ass. Since I'd made a list of things I wanted done for my upcoming trip, I HAD to get them all done, and in the end it turned out to be a pretty cathartic experience. When you're precariously carrying a 60-pound gas tank from a dock to the deck of a floating vessel, all the while trying not to trip over lines that you can't see, you don't have time to think about the little crap you were supposed to be stressed about. I guess this is part of what I like about days like today. When I leave the marina I can see exactly what I did and what I prepared for and it's a settling thought that gets me through my week.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Boy On Kayak Catches Record Striped Bass In Jersey

The story below was my boyhood dream---I mean---IS my boyhood/adulthood dream. You can't tell me that there isn't a boy under the age of, say, 35 who wouldn't have loved to be in Bobby Capri's boat. Wow. What a summer it's shaping up to be and it's hardly even July!

STAFFORD TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - A 14-year-old angler got the ride of his life when he hooked a near-record-size striped bass that pulled his kayak about while he fought to land the fish.

Bobby Capri Jr.'s 52.8-pound striper came within 5 pounds of the world record of 57 pounds for his age group, according to the International Game Fishing Association.

"I knew I had something big. I just did not know how big," Capri told The Press of Atlantic City.

The 115-pound Stafford Township youth hooked the fish Friday off Surf City, where he had paddled his 10-foot kayak.

The striper dragged Capri's kayak for almost 20 minutes, taking him past two jetties and pulling him in circles about a dozen times.

Capri said he managed to lug the fish aboard the kayak by putting his hand through its gill plate.

He then tried to paddle ashore, but the bow of the kayak kept tipping. Capri then pushed his hand up through the fish's gill plate again, jumped out of the kayak and dragged the fish the final 10 to 15 yards ashore, where he called his father on a cell phone. "He called me all excited and asked for help. He said the fish was about 40 pounds," Bobby Capri Sr. said.

The pair took the fish to a nearby bait shop, where they learned its actual weight.

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