Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Beer Review: Bell's Expedition Stout

Well I've had this one sitting around for a few weeks and decided it was a good night for it. Luckily, this big-bold stout ages well. Now the style of this one is a Russian Imperial Stout, which means it will have a much higher alcohol content, and have a lot more intense flavors than a normal stout. This guy has an ABV of 10.5%, so it's a slow sipper. Go time-

A- Rich and velvety briney black pour. This one definitly looks like old, old motor oil! A luscious brown head of foam rises to about 3/4 of an inch and holds...slooowly falls. Looks really creamy as well, like a chocolate dessert in a glass.

S- The nose on this beer is amazing. Deep smells of roasted cocoa beans, real chocolate, roasted almonds and malts. The smell is really pleasant and makes you want to start drinking it right away.

T- Wow, this is one big beer. On the front of the sip there is are a lot of rich flavors flowing around. Molasses, cocoa, dark chocolate. Then some of the roastiness comes through...roasted malts, dark breadiness...do I taste roasted almonds? A second sit reveals more complexity. Bourbon-soaked raisins come to mind. Be noted, don't serve this beer super cold. You need about 45-50 degrees, and let it warm just slightly as you drink it. That will pull out all of the flavors this one has to offer.

M- Well, it's a russian imperial stout. We've got a thick velvety texture. It's so smooth and mouth-coating you really think you're drinking some kind of a dessert! Excellent!

D- Well, all aspects of this one are perfect to me. You certainly need to slowly savor this beer, to do otherwise would be committing a crime against the beer! All you need is one over a nice period of time and you'll feel that 10.5% ABV. Be sure to mix in water as you drink.

Drink safe, drink smart, and as always respect the beer!

Beer Review: Bell's Rye Stout

Beer review time!

This is my first beer review on the blog, and I thought I should share it with you. I am a craft beer enthusiest and I enjoy sampling and discovering the thousands of kinds of beers out there.
For more information, refer to www.BeerAdvocate.com!

I have never had the chance to try Bell's Rye Stout before and I saw some at my local, so I grabbed a single to sample.

Appearance: Pours a simple, inky black. Definitly mysterious, with only the slightest hint of color coming in the very edges. No head, only a thin layer of foam that dissipates quickly. No lacing left down the glass.

Smell: Roasted barley and dark malts hit the nose immediatly. Dark cocoa notes waft in and out throughout. I can detect a toasted breadiness, that must be the rye talking to me!

Taste: Immediatly dark bread (pumpernickel???) and rye hit the palet. Noticable, but not super strong. Despite the bite the rye imparts, the beer is balanced quite well and tastes like a good American stout should. Nothing is too overpoweringly sweet and cloying, which is nice with a stout. Balance is key kids!

Mouthfeel: High quality, full bodied and mouth-coating. Again, it's not too cloying, but rather it's balance let's you know you're not drinking a cheap product.

Drinkability: Wonderful, I could have several of these over the course of a night. Only 6.7%, so it's a rather weak stout on the alcohol meter.

For future reference, when I review a beer, I'm going to use the letters A, S, T, M and D for:

This is for efficiency so there's your heads up.
Folks, there's a whole world of beer out there outside of Bud, Miller and Coors. Do your research and then start exploring. No sense in wasting your money on the big boys, so get the good stuff and support your local brewer and economy!

Number 40, celebrated with natural Vitamin D

So this is my 40th post on here, but it doesn't seem like much for having had this blog for several months now though. However, we all need to start somewhere, right?

So how do we celebrate? Well mother nature has decided to give me a hand in this department for the occassion. For the first time in quite a while we have clear, sunny skies here in West Michigan. As anyone who lives here knows we are one of the cloudiest states in the country, thanks in part to the convection from Lake Michigan. In the winter this is magnified due to the lake effect, which we've been under the past week.

When people talk about SAD (Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder? I might have it wrong) it can be directly related to things such as the amount of gloomy weather vs. sun. Sun provides highly needed natural vitamin D, and can provide a great mental lift. Someone prone to depression probably would not fare to well in a really cold-weather climate due to cabin fever.

When the sun comes out in winter in West Michigan I guess we tend to appreciate it a bit more than folks in a place like Colorado or Southern California.

Okay, enough with meteorologist Pete. It's already 3:15 in the afternoon, and I honestly do not know where the day goes! I'm outta here peoples.

Behave yourselves!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday, Monday

Morning Internet Dwellers!

I officially suck at updating this thing when I say I'm going to. I know I've said that before.

Well last night I headed out to Bdubs on Alpine to meet some friends for dinner. Good times had by all, and I got to see a friend for the last time until this summer most likely, as she's heading back to North Carolina.

Well, Christmas night my buddy Eric and his girlfriend Falon got engaged. I'm really happy for him, as he's absolutely and madly in love with her and they've been dating just over three years now. Now my buddy Eric is quite the popular and in-demand kind of person, see he's got a butt-load of friends and knows pretty much everybody. So, it came as quite the surprise and honor for him (well, his GF because he couldn't choke the words out) to ask me to stand up for them in their coming wedding next summer!

I've been friend with the guy for several years now, and he's had closer friends than me for a lot longer. Hence, my surprise. I don't really know if it's just that he's short on people to ask for groomsmen, or he actually considers me a close friend. I'm not sure what major or minor impact I've on him or Falon if any, but either way I'm more than happy to be there for them.

Well we're now onto Monday #2 of Christmas break, and man it's going by fast. By this point I'm feeling rather slackerish, and lacking any contribution to the world. I guess I should really just enjoy the next week as I don't know if I will ever get the chance to have this much time off work on the holidays again. I'll say this, I've royally screwed up my body clock this past week already! Staying up till 1am, sleeping in until 10am. I had it so I was getting up at 6 with or without an alarm, and going to bed at 1o. So much for that parade.

So, the Lions. Or Snoil's as some call them. People really pay money to this organization? Two wins is not progress over the only winless season in NFL history. Two wins to me means that you're still mired in the swamp management and coaching has put you in for over a decade. I'll cheer for the Packers thank you very much, and no, I'm not "hating" on my native Michigan. I just don't understand why you would support an organization that takes people's hard earned money and then doesn't give them a quality team in return...especially in THIS state!! I'm a very die-hard Red Wings and Tigers fan, but skip the Lions until they get better from top to bottom. I despise the NBA, so I don't even know if the Pistons still exist, lol.

So what to do today? I've already been out taking care of issues, but I don't want to sit around the house all day. My body is sore from working out yesterday, so I'm taking a day off from it today. I really ought to clean and organize...I think Ill probably head out to some stores and window-shop later. Who knows...again why I'm feeling slackerish!

Peace out Kiddo's.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Sunday!

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend.

I am now fully in the vacation mode, sleeping in thoroughly everyday since last weekend. With one week to go in my vacation, and only 4.5 days to go until the new year, I thought I ought to get in here and throw something on.

I've seriously taken a mental vacation over the last 10 days, and getting back on track a week from now will be a monumental feat!

Not 100% sure what my New Years Eve plans are yet, but they might involve going out of town, I hope.

I'll try to get back on here later tonight when I get some brighter ideas.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Life: In Fast Forward

WOWZER. Sorry for the capslock but I feel it necessary. Lately I've felt life being a dragrace that keeps speeding up. Wasn't it just Friday the last time I posted on here?!

I got back about 2:30 this afternoon from a few days on the otherside of the Mitten. Well deserved, and looong overdue I might add. Good times had by all, it was time to venture back home to GR today. Well, since 2:30 it's been nothing but slacking. I guess I'm in "Christmas break" mindset, because I haven't so much as worked out today and it's ALREADY 10:30 pm??? C'mon man!!

Christmas is Friday, are you kidding me?! I swear it was just August 29th and I was watching the first GVSU football game of the year. Hell, I feel like sitting outside in shorts and a T-shirt was just last week!

As I sit here this evening, I am encountered by a dorky hobby that's been missing since the first week of September; Listening to air-traffic control frequencies from around the country. It's official, my college football season is pretty much over. Time to switch over to my beloved Red Wings and hope beyond hope we can make the post-season, despite our regular's being a triage unit and the bench made up of almost all Griffins we might have an outside shot at the 8th seed in the West this year. Quite a 180 from last year....eek.

Took a gander at some of the malls in the metro Detroit area Sunday. I'm again struck by the realization that as materialistic as we are over here in W. Michigan, we are a country mile away from how bad it is in suburban Detroit. A four-year old does not need Uggs!!! If you only have one child, you do not need a Yukon XL!! Oh, and WHY is your 10 year-old carrying her OWN cell phone!? It'd be laughable if it weren't so sad. People watching is always worth it.

It's going to be a low-key Christmas, especially with a winter storm moving in Christmas eve around these here parts.

On sad news, management at my townhouse complex decided to build an outdoor ice-rink this winter. Kickass of course, until some fooking vandals hit it on three occassions already and management decides to tear it down due to cost of repair. I hate people who do things like this, they ruined free winter fun and excercise for several hundred people. Your life must suck in the worst way to stoop to that level.

Anyway, I'll stop whining. I hope you all have a nice night! I'm peacin' out.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Impromtu Christmas Break

Morning All! I wanted to add this earlier in the week but got tied up.

I learned this Monday that I would have the next two weeks off without work. I, of course, am a substitute teacher and it's time for Holiday/Christmas/Winter break for schools for two weeks. I was hoping to pick up some shifts at my seasonal job over these next two weeks to have some income, so there would be less of a disruption. All was going fine and dandy and looking like I'd be used over break.

Monday afternoon I was informed that due to budget and lower sales this time of year than summer (duh!), they would not be bringing any seasonal people in over the next couple weeks.


So now I have a lot of time on my hands, and I'm going to have a LOT less money next month. Trying to figure out what to do about the situation will be interesting to say the least.

I think this is a sign from God that I need to find a more steady form of income than two seasonal jobs while I search for something in my degree field, no matter how important to society the current one is.

Since regular teachers are not allowed to take today (the last day of school before break) off without penalty of income, there are no slots open. So today is my first day of break. I'm happy for the time, but I'd like the money more FYI.

Damn details.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Home from Alabma

I need to write in here more frequently, I'm becoming blog delinquent!

Well last night about 11pm I finally arrived home from my third trip to Alabama in the last 6 years for the NCAA Division II Football National Championship. Unfortunatly, my Lakers had a second half comeback fall short en-route to a 30-23 loss to the Bearcats from Northwest Missouri State University. Despite the loss, and occassional crummy weather the trip was enjoyed by almost everyone!

A little background before I give you the play-by-play.

I had taken Friday, December 11 off from work weeks in advance just in case, and sure enough we made the title game for the first time since 2006. It would be my first time back since 2005, and I was geeked to the max.

The plan was to leave my friend Eric's in Allendale at 3am Friday morning. I didn't get a lot of sleep that night, simply because another friend (who was going with our group) of mine was picking me up at my place at 1am on his way out there.

To preface, the weather in West Michigan was horrible, literally blizzard conditions with lake effect snow. Luckily we had his 4X4 Jeep and got through it slowly, but easily enough. Once arriving at around 1:30 Am and getting ripped on for once again being early, we started to get things around for a final check.

At exactly 3:15 am Friday morning we were on the road 'Bama bound. A quick stop downtown to pick up a passenger, and we were East-bound on I-96, then South on I-69. We stopped and grabbed our last passenger in Coldwater, Michigan. From there we began to escape the terrifying blizzard-ridden roads in Michigan and crossed the Indiana state line! By Fort Wayne the weather was gone and the roads clear and dry. Dawn was breaking as the Eastern sky began to grow lighter. We realized we'd have the sun Gods on our side today!

On the South side of Indianapolis we stopped at McD's for a fast-food breakfast. Despite the weather in MI, we were making awsome time. We joined I-465 to circle the outskirts of Indy and jumped on our main route I-65 after breakfast. Just two sun-drenched hours later we saw the skyline of Louisville, KY appear on the horizon...it was still mid-morning! One of my favorite views of the view of Louisville from the Ohio river. We plowed through Louisville traffic and flew past the University of Louisville and entered the hills.

By Bowling Green, KY we needed a fuel stop. By now, it was about noon and we were only 35 or so miles from Nashville. Bathroom breaks and taken, petrol pumped, gas pedal STOMPED. We realized this was the earliest we'd ever make it to Florence, Alabama when we crossed the Tennessee state line. We cruised through the Country Music Capital of the World and an hour later the exit for the Jack Daniel's distillery flew past. Next up: Sweet Home Alabama.

By 1:30-2pm CST we had hit the border of Alabama, making dust. Our exit at Athens, Ala appeared soon after and we curled off to cruise Westward for another 45 minutes. Winding through small-town Alabama is certainly nice, and soon enough we were greeted by the gates of Florence!! SWEET HOME ALABAMA!! We always stay at the Days Inn in Muscle Shoals, right across the Tennessee River. Through downtown Florence, and across the gorgous steel bridge spanning the Tennessee River Valley. We arrived at just after 3pm CST.

After relaxing for a while and having a couple beers, we headed out to hit our usual spots. Dinner at Outback was followed by a stop by the official GVSU Alumni party at The FIZZ inside the local Holiday Inn. Good times and lots of Lakers Alumni reunions later we decided to see if our old stomping grounds Cajun's had been taken over by NWMS fans. Indeed, we were sorely outnumbered. We split that awkward scene and rolled across town to Sidelines sports bar to meet some other GV and DII people. After a while, we decided it was time to call it a night. We had a noon kickoff Saturday, and an early wake-up call. I was in bed at 10pm.

We awoke at 7am, cleaned up and grabbed some continental breakfast in the hotel "lobby". We got to Braly Municipal Stadium by 8:30 am. Party-time. Loads of fun, free food and plenty of beverages of choice were followed by a rousing arrival of the team busses with police escort. My God how I missed this!

A furious second half come-back fell short and so did the Lakers, 30-23. NWMS brokethrough and won their first title in their 5th trip in a row this decade, addiing to their two from the 1990's. Luckily, the rain held off until 10:00 to go in the 4th quarter.

Post game was the season celebration at the Armory. Tons of free BBQ, sides, pie and pop (HA! Take THAT Southerners!!) and speeches from the coach, seniors on the team and the athletic director and GVSU president. By now it was only 5pm, so we stopped back at the hotel briefly before hitting Sidelines again. No one wanted to go anywhere after Sidelines except back to the hotel to have some beers.

7AM Wake-up. We departed at about 8:30, and made our way to Cracker Barrel in Florence for breakfast. After stuffing ourselves, the long, ardious journey home began. We followed the same route home, and encountered little resistance to progress. However, our 10am CST departure meant a late arrival home in the Eastern time zone. We stopped for gas in Southern Tennessee, in Louisville for Eric to "go" and didn't stop for food until Southern Indiana. After Burger King, it started to get dark. After what seemed like an eternity, we crossed into Michigan. We hit Lansing by 10pm, and I was home by 11pm.

I was in bed by 11:15. Work was early the next morning. I was happy to be out of that van depite the fun trip.

I count my blessings as a college football fan every day. Even though I am not financially blessed, I am blessed in so many other ways. I have a wonderful and supportive family and girlfriend whom I don't know where I'd be without them. I have great friends, and very successful sports teams to follow. In my eight years of being a Laker fan/alum, my team has gone to 5 title games, not counting the one before I was a student in 2001.
The whole GVSU athletic department is amazing. They do so much more with so much less money than any other school I can think of.

God Bless all of you, and in the un-dying spirit of kick-ass roadie's; GO LAKERS!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I'm tense...anxious obviously. I'm kind of on edge slightly. This is one of the negatives of being a substitute teacher.

Last Friday we had a snow day. Great you say!! Well, unless you were counting on the money. That's right, even though I had a job locked up, I don't get paid for snowdays. They are outside of my control entirely.

I was able to work four-full days last week, but really wanted the full. Currently this week I had a full day yesterday, and only could find a half-day today. I have a full day lined up tommorow and Thursday, with Friday being off for travel. Sadly however, a major winter storm is moving in tonight through Thursday...a MAJOR winter storm. I'd like to work one of those two days if possible, as the money is necessary. Especially seeing that Christmas break is almost one week away, and I'm not sure if I can pick up some time at my backup job or not. Or, how much subbing I'll get next week, the last week before break. It definitly has the ability to make one speculative.

Furthermore, I am scheduled to go to Alabama this weekend for the DII Football National Championship. Now, I have looked forward to possibly being able to go again for several years, and I don't know if I'll ever get to go again in my life. It does however still cost a bit high for my share of the hotel, van rental, gas and ticket. That's not counting food, which much of I will be on my own for. I'm really hoping for good news from my backup job in terms of getting some time in, that will make life A LOT easier.

Well, the weather is going to make travel Friday morning very iffy as well. I got a lot on the mind...as you can see.

God Bless....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Playoff System and the NCAA

As if this topic hasn't been beaten to death already.

If you can't tell, or have been under a rock for the last decade and a half, I'm talking about the NCAA's Division I FBS system (Football Bowl Subdivision). In the last two decades, the wealth of the major DI-FBS programs in college football has grown to enormous proprtions. Ohio State leads the pack with an athletic budget of $105 million, while schools like Texas, Florida, Michigan and USC are right behind with $80-$95 million in their sports' treasuries. These numbers are absolutly mind-boggling on the spread sheets. However, only about two-dozen college athletic departments actually make a profit on their sports programs in Division I. All others operate on losses, and some operate in ghastly amounts of red-ink.

In these same two decades, the money being made by corporations, the NCAA and the major college football programs who get invited to the big bowl games as grown equally obese. In recent history the BCS bowl payouts have been sickeningly wild. The Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl and Citi BCS National Championship each pay out $17 million! Countless others pay out several million dollars. What is shocking is that the $17 million pay out for one of the BCS bowls is more than the whole athletic budget of some MAC or SunBelt Conference schools. The economic disparity in the FBS is alrarming.

Furthermore, not all schools who play in Division I FBS even have the RIGHT to play for the BCS national championship. Schools in the MAC and Sunbelt conferences are not "BCS" conferences according to the NCAA. With this logic, if Central Michigan in the MAC, or North Texas in the Sunbelt went completely undefeated, they would still be doomed to their little bowl game, and probably not even ranked in the top 5 in any poll. This is one of the most mind-boggling aspects to me. If you can not play for the national championship, then what are you playing for!? A conference championship??

This brings me to my point. All level of football except DI-FBS have a true playoff to decide the real national champion; the NFL, NCAA DI-AA (FCS), DII, DIII, NAIA, and high school. Even NCAA DI basketball has a true playoff system which is extremely profitable and allows cindarella's like George Mason to have a true shot at the title!

As it stands tonight, there are six undefeated teams in the top ten spots in the BCS standings. No surprise that the top two are Florida and Alabama, perrenial SEC powerhouses. Behind them at #3 is Texas. After that is where we get into the meat of the arguement. We have TCU @ #4, Cincinnatti @ #5, and Boise State @#6...all unbleamished. Save for Boise State for the past several years, the other two horses are new-comers to this part of the poll. The reality is that several undefeated's are going to be left out of the BCS national championship with an arguement and an army behind them as to their worthiness. TCU, BSU and Cincy are being held back from the very top by a system so biased, even it's creators readily admit such. This fact alone, in my eyes, should be grounds for storming the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis with pitchforks and torches.

The whole system is run by super-wealthy organizations who are making way too much money in the current system to want to see a change. Change to them means lost profits. Their symapthizers have a multitude of excuses:

1. It wouldn't work - Crap, it works wonderfully for everyone else.

2. It would cause student athletes to miss too much class - Like you've ever cared about that before. It works fine in all other NCAA football levels, the NCAA basketball tourney and in high school, it just requires a balance in life!

3. It would render the regular season meaningless - Well then I guess that means that every regular season game played in DI-FCS, DII, DIII and the NFL is meaningless.

See a pattern? If not, you're one of the millions of minions who devour the crap on a daily basis in the veiled belief that this is the best college football.

The truth is that with a playoff system, say a 24 team field like in DII and DI-FCS, small programs would have a legitimate shot at the crown. the MAC and SunBelt could send their conference champions, etc. Have a four-region setup, and the top 6 programs in each regions get a bid based ONLY on being conference champion or mathmatical strength of schedule. The days of the good ole' boys club behind closed doors deciding who gets what scraps should be ripped apart as fast as possible.

Further truth? The BCS National Championship doesn't crown a TRUE national champion. They do not have to play the other top teams as they would in a playoff, nor do they allow several conferences a shot to play in the game. This exclusion alone rips the veil off this paper tiger. The sham it is inside can be made clear for all, and DI-FBS, in my eyes at least, will never have a real national champion until a true playoff is implemented.

Unfortunatly, there's far too much money being shared between only a few of the richest programs, the NCAA and the sponsors for it to be implemented in the forseeable future.

If you wanted to know how it lays out, there are the facts. I dare you to argue with them.

God Speed and GO LAKERS!!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December...and the first snows of the year!

Good Evening All!

I'm way too wound up for it being this late on a work night! It's December 3rd, a Wednesday. Tonight and tommorow Grand Rapids is set to see the first real snow of the season. Waaayyy late on our usual schedule, about a month late, and I'm not talking about your girlfriend!! Snow showers tommorow, lake effect snow kicking in tommorow night through Saturday.

The best news, I am sooo geeked for, Laker football in the snow Saturday LIVE in HD on ESPN!

Let's hope these next two days go by smoothly, as I am quite excited if you can't tell.

In other news, Tiger Woods this...Tiger Woods this. Maybe ESPN will interrupt the broadcast of our football game if Tiger passes gas. Instant analysis of what he might have eaten and how it will affect his career. Good God, I know the guy get's paid hundred of millions of dollars. However, that does NOT mean I want to hear about him every two minutes.

So folks, a quick mid-week update for you all. Happy Hump Day to everyone!!

I hope to update tommorow night, if not, Friday!

Peace to the world...