Brewing Thoughts

February 12, 2008

Coming Out of Hibernation – Brain Dump

Filed under: Family,Food,Homebrewing,Politics — jidd @ 12:03 pm

What? An actual post?  Well, if any of you out there are still reading this page… (other than the comment spammers that is) it’s time for an update.  I’m just going to dump all the things that have been lingering in the back of my brain that I’ve wanted to post about.

So, what’s new?  Hmm… Melanie will be 4 months old tomorrow.  I can’t believe how much she has changed already.  We haven’t weighed her recently, but she’s gotta be up around 13 or 14 lbs now.  She’s gotten out of the “lump o’ baby” phase and has gotten playful and is starting to have personality.  So far, her eyes are still a beautiful bright blue and her hair looks more auburn all the time.  I’m not sure where her blue eyes came from, but I hope they stay that way.

Melanie’s dedication is at church this weekend.  My folks are going to be down from Oregon, so we’re in full house-overhaul mode at home.  Between taking care of Melanie, taking care of her grandparents, and trying to get the house in order poor Courtney hasn’t hardly gotten any rest at all lately.

Speaking of getting the house in order…  1 year after moving in I finally got around to getting the front door fully operational.  Back when we moved in, our Realtor got the house re-keyed for us (thanks Margy!).  However, the locksmith said that our 85 year old front door lock which was without a key was irreparable, so we’ve just used the side doors that come off the driveway as the main entry.  As Courtney will attest, I don’t take “It Can’t Be Done” very well.  I set about researching this door lock and finding a way.  Last weekend, for the first time I was able to walk out the front door, lock it behind me, and use a key to get back in through the same door.  It’s the small things.

The landscaping is still, well, nearly non-existant. A while back I had some guys come in and drop a few trees and grind the stumps.  One tree was alread dead, one was a fruiting mulberry that made a huge mess, and the 3rd was a gnarly old fig tree stump that just kept sending up runners and refusing to die). The same guys graded the front yard and cut it down a few inches to accommodate new sod, and did most of the trenching I needed done in order to install sprinklers.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never done sprinklers before and made a few mistakes along the way.  Not the least of which was ripping out about 15′ of our main water line thinking it was an old sprinkler line.  Anyhow, between being sick, being busy, or having rain every weekend, they’ve been stuck at about 80% completion most of the winter.  But I did get a few tree roses planted along the walkway. =)

I am finding myself increasingly distracted by all things food.  Well, maybe not quite all things, but enough.  As most of you know, I’ve brewed beer for a few years know.  Well, I started a few years ago, took a hiatus, and am now getting back to it. I have a passable batch of Belgian White on tap at the moment, and plans for an Irish Stout and a Red Ale as soon as time permits.  Also, within the last year I’ve started roasting my own coffee.  There is really something wonderfully alive about fresh coffee that hasn’t sat on a shelf slowly dying for who know how long.  Also, I have a batch of homemade Lemon Cello underway.  Not strictly “lemon” cello, I made it from a combination of Meyer lemons, regular lemons, and a little bit of orange. It should be ready sometime after Valentines Day.

Besides that, lately I’ve been making homemade yogurt, granola, chicken stock, chili powder, and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting.

Most recently, I’m fixated on meat.  Not just  your standard steak, chicken & pork chops. Au contraire.  I want to cure, smoke, brine, age, grind, and eat my way through a pile of carcasses big enough to fill a cellar.  But wouldn’t that would mean that I’ll need to build a smokehouse and root cellar?  Sure, but for some reason I don’t find this daunting.  Wouldn’t any sane person think of this and say, “but I can buy sausage, bacon and pastrami at the market/butcher.”  Why doesn’t my brain work that way?  I see a slab of bacon at the store and dream of how much better you could make it at home.  German sausage? Yeah, I love the stuff.  Why can’t I just be content to eat it at the Sale or buy it from some guy in Reedley? Sure, zwieback seems to be the holy grail of Mennonite food for some reason.  While I don’t have anything against the stuff, I’m just not that interested in making it.  Surely sausage making is a higher calling.  Surely, my desire to do this indicates some sort of mental illness.

Hmm… another area that I have some firm opinions about but haven’t had (taken) the time to fully indulge recently.  But here are a few briefs: 1) Ron Paul – I don’t know much about him other than that he is supposedly a libertarian in republican clothing.  Being libertarian myself, I really need to look into this more.  I think it’s safe to say that his changes at the oval office are laughable right now, but in general anyone that can bring libertarian principals into the discussion and public eye is a Good Thing©.

On a related note, this is an interesting article on how much our government’s war on marijuana costs us every year.  Very bad things happen when you artificially criminalize something which fundamentally should be a matter of personal choice.  Just like during Prohibition, our government has created a situation where obscene amounts of taxpayer money are spent to enforce a law that is simply unjust and completely contradicts basic American principles.  Black markets are created, taxpayer money is wasted, lives are ruined, and for what?  Our national panties are in such a knot over marijuana that we’ve utterly abandoned an amazingly beneficial crop that our government used to beg farmers to grow.   If you have time, give that first article a read.  It is brief, and it does a pretty good job of putting into perspective the scale of the resources that are spent on this menace.

Anyhow, if you’ve made it this far, I apologize.  I’m sure there is more, but I’ve subjected you to enough abuse for now.



November 6, 2007

Life 2.0

Filed under: Family — jidd @ 10:37 am

No, it isn’t a minor “point revision”. Having a kid is like rewriting things from the ground up. That routine you’ve worked so long to dial in just right? Out the window. The simple things that you took for granted like just being able to roll over in bed, forgotten.

Sure, some may say marriage is the first major revision to Life 1.0. They lie. It is Life 1.5 at best. Unless you’re parents arrange for you to marry some chick/bloke that you’ve never met, most of us ease into the long-term relationship thing. There’s dating, perhaps living together, then finally:

Him – Hey, you wanna just get married? It’s easier than dating searching for someone new. I love you, will you marry me?
Her – Yes, and lets have babies.
Him – Babies, are you kidding me? Well, if that’s what we have to do for me to have sex. Yes, lets have lots of sex babies.

If you’ve already lived together, not a whole lot changes. The milestone is that you spend a bunch of money to throw a fancy party, and in exchange for coming to the party people give you a bunch of free stuff. Sure, some people definitely throw better parties than others. Correspondingly, some guest give you better swag too. It really is a bit of a gamble for both the couple and the guests. The guest aren’t sure just how good a party will be, so how nice of a gift do I give? The couple has guests that they know will bring dime-store presents, and some that they hope will bring the bling. Just how do you make it equitable for all?

It also all gets very political with the families and making sure all the right people are invited, none of the wrong people, and creating a seating chart is something akin reading a star chart written in Swahili.

Throw in a honeymoon, and then the fuss is pretty well over and done with. Back to work everyone.

But rest assured, when all that is said and done it is just a point revision. You think you’re ready for Life 2.0? First, lets look at mommy to be. She needs to be willing to spend 9 months nurturing what would otherwise be considered a parasitic tumor until it is roughly the size and shape of a large spaghetti squash or small watermelon. Then, just when she thinks it’s killing her and she is going to rupture from the pressure, well, she does. The chain reaction is kicked off with the springing of a leak, progressively worsening cramping, all culminating in pushing said gourd out of an orifice 6 times too small.

And dad? Well, hope you’ve got a strong stomach pops because while mom is doing the dirty work you’ve got a front-row seat to Aliens 3D, now with Smell-O-Vision! Seriously, Gallagher has nothing on this folks. Granted, neither end of this deal is real high up on the list of things to do on a boring Friday night, but I think I’d have to stick with dad’s role here.

Just when you think the drama is over, all the people that had been around running this freak show disappear. You’re left alone to fend for yourself with this “baby”. It has no concept of Day vs. Night. 3 meals a day. Inside voice. All the things that you’ve spent so long to get figured out in Life 1.0 are irrelevant. Wait, no, they aren’t irrelevant to you. They are irrelevant to “baby”. You still have obligations in the outside world, that world you interface with through what you’ve learned in Life 1.0.
Work? It still starts at o-dark thirty. You still want to eat generally as you ate before.

You DESPERATELY want to sleep as you slept before, but “baby” has other plans. Except there is a language barrier. The interface to “baby” isn’t as refined as the rest of the interfaces in Life 1.0 were. It works differently and you can’t quite figure it out. “Baby” says, “I’m hungry, I want to eat NOW.” All you hear is, “Wwwwaaaaaahhhhhh!!” Oddly, this is exactly what it sounds like to you when “baby” says “get this shitty diaper off my ass,” “would you stop making those ridiculous faces,” or “I’m cold, wrap me in something warm and soft.” The interface is the same, but the input required to change to the desired result is different every time. There is only one alarm for every type of error imaginable.

But somehow, inexplicably, you’re drawn in. For while there is but one alarm, there are countless other good sounds and rewards. When the stars align in God smiles down on you, “baby” is now Melanie. She coos, oohs and ahhs. She looks like a strangely familiar, albeit substantially smaller version of somebody you know. She gets that particular silly grin when she drops a bomb in her diaper. She looks up from your arms much as a drunk guy looks upon a woman of questionable attractiveness; not quite able to focus clearly, but pretty sure they like what they see. Whether she is sleeping, visually exploring the world, or just trying to understand warm sensation creeping up her backside, you can’t help but just sit and stare at her.

The upgrade process isn’t easy, but it is definitely worth the trouble.

June 29, 2007

Melanie Anne

Filed under: Family — jidd @ 7:43 am

June 27, 2007
13 oz.

June 6, 2007

A Moment of Silence

Filed under: Family — jidd @ 12:48 pm

John Douglas & John David at Airport.jpgSorry things have been so quiet for a few weeks. As some of you may know, my dad passed away last month on the 14th, which just happened to be the day I was supposed to start my new position here in Fresno. Twice now with my company I’ve taken a week of bereavement leave when I’ve transferred to a new position. Last time it was for grandma when I was supposed to start in Sacramento. Let this be a lesson to my family, if I have to move again you could be next!

Dad’s death was the most involved I’ve ever been in something like this. It all went very quickly. Working around the state as I have for the last few years, I hadn’t been seeing him as much as I should/wanted. Once I started up in Colusa, I tried to make a point of stopping by Madera on my way home Friday afternoons to have dinner with dad & his girlfriend. Recently, I’ve taken a little bit of time off for trips to the hospital when he went in for his first surgery about a week and a half before he passed.

The short(er) version of what happened is that he went in on a Thursday for a Friday morning surgery to have an intestinal tumor removed. He was discharged the following Tuesday, returned via the ER on that Thursday night in extreme pain with his stomach obviously very distended. I got to talk to him a bit that night, but it was difficult considering the pain he was in. Friday morning we spoke briefly before they did another surgery to address the complications, this time moving him to ICU for recovery and keeping him heavily sedated to allow him to heal without complicating things by moving around. While the doctors say that patients medicated as he was can hear but not respond, he was never “conscious” again.

I was at the hospital off and on throughout the weekend, keeping abreast of any changes in his condition and keeping family informed of what was going on. Having medical power of attorney for dad, I was also the one to sign any documents necessary to direct his care. While there were various other complications, the worst was that his kidney (yes, only one) was not recovering after the surgery and he was unable to pass any fluids. By Sunday it was pretty obvious that it wasn’t going to come around.

Monday morning I met with the doctors to make the decision to withdraw the respirator and increase his meds to make him as comfortable as possible. At around 10:15 they withdrew the respirator. There was only myself, my dad’s girlfriend Ruth, and the attending nurse there in the room with him. I held his hand and looked into his vacant, medicated eyes. I tried to smile for him, not knowing if he was able to look back or not, afraid to look away if he was. His breathing slowed and started to come in spurts, then finally ceased. He passed at around 10:20.

A week from today dad would be 77.  Happy birthday and thank you.

My heart is heavy.

May 10, 2007

Sing it Ozzy

Filed under: Family,General — jidd @ 8:11 am

Woot! I just found out that as of Monday I’m transferring to a job down in Fresno. Still with my company, but no more trailer life for me! It’s been about 4 years since I’ve had a commute this short, and with Courtney being pregnant and my dad’s health, just wow. What a relief.See ya in the Tower.

May 2, 2007

Kids These Days

Filed under: Family,Politics,Religion — jidd @ 10:08 am

No Bullshit

Question(s) for the day:

What are our responsibilities in terms of respecting our elders? When does it become justifiable, or possibly essential to contradict our parents, elder family or even church leaders?

I recently received a forwarded email from a dear, elderly family member whom I haven’t seen in several years. However, while this email purported to be raise political concerns about a presidential candidate, nowhere did it once mention this candidate’s position on any issues or even point to actions this individual had taken that were in any way suspect.

No, this email simply pointed to the candidate’s ethnicity, the religions of his parents, and where he had lived during his life. Any time ethnicity or religion was mentioned, it was in ALL CAPS to be sure that you noticed.

I generally disregard most of the political forwards that I get from my family, however this one struck a nerve. While it has obvious political implications, the argument it proposed wasn’t political, it was racial and religious.

Not surprisingly, my response has started a bit of a firestorm. However, as I stated in one of my replies to another family member on the distribution who suggested I just delete the message, “I am compelled both by my faith as well as my personal integrity to denounce racial slander when confronted with it. To do otherwise would be traitorous to my eternal soul.”

So I ask, when is it right to call bullshit on our elders?

I’ll close this post with the same way I closed my response to the email. This is a variation of a poem by Martin Niemöller, inscribed at the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, Massachusetts.

First they came…

They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

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