Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Update: Summer Before Spring.

Here in Western Michigan summer seemed to come long before spring had ever sprung! It's now the first week in April, and two weeks ago (in the middle of March) we were in the midst of a stretch of over two weeks with temperatures reaching into the 70's and for a lot of that event well into the 80's! It was unprecented, it was un-real and surreal all at the same time. The grass grew green like May, the trees flowered and started to sprout, and the tulips in Holland sprouted two months early!! heck, the girlfriend and I even dipped our toes into a still icy Lake Michigan.

It turned out to be the warmest March EVER on recorded history in Michigan. EVER. Sink in yet?? Good, because today is Wednesday, April 4th, 2012. The weather is still ahead of the curve. For a while afterward it got rainy and dropped into the deep 40's. Usual late March weather. It is however back up into the 50's and 60's and will be virtually completely sunny for this entire coming week. Yup, that's what the actual forecast is. It's what's for dinner.

Yesterday I not only lifted weights in the morning, but then got a burst of energy several hours later and decided I wanted to go walk around Reeds Lake. That walk turned into a 5K run within 50 meters of my start. The GF and I have been walking the 4+ miles around Reeds Lake a lot lately, and I have taken to jogging around it. It's a marvelous diversion from my normal boring jogging routes. Props to us!

All-in-all things are well. Big changes brewing soon. Love to all!!!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Beer Review: Diabolical India Pale Ale - North Peak Brewing, Traverse City, MI.

So the other day I decided to grab a mixed sixer of some beers I had either never tried, or hardly drink. I had always seen North Peak's stubby little bottles and wondered how it was. Knowing I like IPA's, I thought this one would be a good try.

A- The appearance is amazing. The pours a hazy, bright yet deep amber color. The haze hangs around in the beer wonderfully clotting the clarity. The head pours huge! This thing started at four-fingers tall and took forever to fall. A huge, pillowy, white head with great retention stuck around forever!

S- The aroma is nice, but not overly done. I get a lot of citrus and floral smells, and it's light on the pine. Is that the presence of Cascade hops? This thing smells quite juicy, let's see.

T- One word; Yum. This IPA has a "juiciness" about it that is right up front and lasts right through the after-taste. I get a lot of orange citrus, some grapefruits start popping immediatly too. It's sweet, with a definite bite. Then the grassy flavors start coming mid-palate, ooooh and theres the pine/earthiness. What a good flavor, this one is pretty well balanced as I do get some malts in there too, but you know it's an IPA. Delicious.

M- Very coating mouthfeel. The beer is in no way cloying and you can certainly tell there is body to this beer. You can also get a sense for the creamy head in the mouthfeel of the beer.

D- Very drinkable beer. 6.66% ABV and 66.6 IBU's of bitterness (hence the name??)ensure this IPA packs flavor while allowing you to session it.

Overall this is quite an impressive "ordinary" American IPA. It's certainly not watered down, and they know what they're doing with this beer. I would recommend finding some for yourself and giving it a whirl!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Beer Review: Leinenkugal's Big Eddy Imperial Stout

This beer is quite the beer. I've always been very impressed that despite having ownership and distribution rights over the Leinenkugal brand, Miller-Coors still allows them to crank out some really good ales, especially this beast! I had the opportunity to try it a few years back for the first time and haven't had the give-a-dang to since. So, for posterities sake, here we go.

A- Pours a molasses-thick, inky black. Am I going to drink three-year old used motor oil?? This stuff lets no light penetrate, period. Dark, sinister and forboding to those too afraid to approach, Big Eddy looms deliciously. A small dark-brown head forms and quickly dissapears.

S- Malty aromas slam my nasal passages in less than a second. Dark roasted coffee beans, rich, dark earthy smells evoke that of hard, crusty black-bread. deeper still rich cocoa lies deep within.

T- Wow what an explosion. I get cocoa-bean and bakers chocolate first. It's dark, super rich and definitly not for the prepared palet. As you let it sit on your palet roasted notes show up to the party. While late, here comes coffee. he's roasted too! Is that toffee with a major malty edge?? He's brought a friend, dark molasses-infused rye bread! Good to see you all here! Yes, they are all indeed here. Take your time on this one!

M- What a deep beer. This one is molasses and it's a good thing!This one is sweet, almost cloying toward the end if drank too quickly. It sits on your tongue and lingers as well. Quite pleasant if you like coffee though.

D- This beer is mainly for the months of November through April in colder climates. Pick a snowy night and a fire, hopefully a pooch curled up at your side, a good book on your lap. Relax, it's all good with this one.

9.5% Alc. by Volume, sold in four-packs or singles. Consult your highest-quality locale to get one that's been treated properly.

Friday, January 13, 2012

"Whatever It takes To Win"

That's the montra in a lot of sports circles, especially amongst fans. That montra is even further evident in the realms of big-time DI-A college football. Athletic department budgets near and over $100 million, multi-million dollar coaches salaries, 100,000 seat stadiums, the best money can buy.

What fuels the need for all this? The money and revenue involved. What fuels that revenue? A crazed, obsessive (to put it mildly) nation of sports addicts who need a 24/7, 365 fix of whatever their allegiance is. They eat, sleep, work, defacate and most certainly bleed their team's/school's colors. This has made God-like icons out of the biggest names in college sports. It's suppost to be clean, moral and "for the love of the game." Well, we all now know it's far from that. College athletics are vulnerable to all of the most ghastly and immoral criminal behaviors that found on the streets of South Central LA. Last fall we got a rude reminder with the Penn State scandal.

Now in the article I am about to post, from Yahoo Sports writer Matt Hinton, it goes on to explain the sheer levels of anger and rage from PSU alumni about the firing of Joe Paterno. Now I'm not going to set the scene and preface this with 3 pages of background you already know, but JoePa (once one of my biggest idols in sports) had complicit knowledge of Mr. Sandusky's behaviors, and covered it up. It's the truth. It happened. One of the most invincible sports figures of all time was felled from his lack of moral action in the situation.

How anyone, after all the facts had come out, could be so blind and single-minded as to not only think it was wrong, but to be ANGRY that Coach Paterno was fired is beyond me. I try to think how, and it's so impossible my brain literally stops. It's un-conscionable that he would be allowed to stay. These angry alums demanding "explanations" are likely donors, some of whom exceptionally well-heeled. Regardless, the Nittany Lion fan-base ought to be hiding in fear and shame. Instead, they're mad that a man complicit in the continued of rape of an un-told number of children for years lost his job because of it. Instead of mourning the victims, the Penn State students went to the streets to riot in opposition to Paterno's firing. Well, that certainly reflects well on their moral standing, regardless of religious affiliation.

What I'm getting at here is that we've reached such a level of fan-dom and blind-ness in the face of winning, that even in the face of such an un-speakable horror as that incident some people say "Screw the victims, who cares if they were children who's innocence was ripped and lives harmed forever! I want my coach whether he's guilty or not!" It reveals a side of our fan-dom that is even uglier than we expected it could be. Dare I say that each one of those people advocating for the guilty be put to the same sexual abuse. Maybe their tones would change after...

God help and have mercy on those students and alums. As Jesus said while being slapped to the cross "Forgive them father, for they know not what they do!". Let's hope more conscienable heads prevail and apologies are given.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Year, More Random Ramblings

Hey All!

December 30, 2011 came to and end in most spectacular and amazing fashion at the Inn at St. John in Plymouth, Michigan. One of my closest friends from college was getting married on New Years Eve, and man was that an incredible night. The most wonderful girl to ever grace my life and almost all of my college friends joined in the celebration, and I can say with total certainty that it was the best NYE I have ever had. Congrats Matt and Shannon!

Speaking of that wonderful girl, we've been together just about a year now and come February 5 it will mark the circle to the most amazing year I can remember, with hopefully many, many more to come! She is my better half and true final puzzle piece to my heart.

As you can tell, we're deep within the haunches of winter in Western Mitten-land. So that means it should be 4 degrees F with 12 inches of snow on the ground....right? While it is FINALLY snowing tonight, GR has had the single most absured and downright strange (almost creepy) start to winter I can ever remember. Aside from two inches of snow that melted immediatly (day after) it's been dry, partly sunny and in the mid-40's most of the last two months!! Conspiracy theories abound, but winter might just finally be here. We shall see about that...

Now on to what you usually expect from me; sports. Way to go Tigers, AL Central Division Champs and you beat the Yankees again in the playoffs. The Wings are the Wings and are where they usually are this time of year. The Lions had tons of hope to start the season and...MADE THE PLAYOFFS?!?! PLAYOFFS!?! Yes, the Detroit Lions went 10-6 and made the playoffs, losing however to New Orleans in the first round. The rain-man cometh apparently.

My GVSU Laker football team failed to make the playoffs for the first time since my senior year of HIGH SCHOOL. They still managed to go 8-3, have a torrential 7-0 finish to the season where they bent people over the proverbial railing. On that note, Wayne State (whom we did not play) made it all the way to Florence, Al to the D2 national championship game. Yes, THAT Wayne State in Detroit. Despite returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown, they eventually gave-way and the 6th-seeded Warriors (Tartars) fell to powerhouse Pittsburg State of Kansas. But still...what a statement for the conference. A team that made it into the final regional round of six to make the playoffs, played four rounds on the road all over the country and then finally Alabama. Why can't D1-A have this?

Speaking of D1-A, what an interesting year. Brian Kelly's sophmore year at Notre Dame started terrible, just as his first. he righted that ship and finished 8-4, and gettng to the Champs Sports Bowl, only to let a 14-3 halftime lead over Florida State dissapear and lose 18-14.

Welcome back Michigan football! 11-2, They destroy Nebraska, beat Ohio for the first time since 2003, make the Sugar Bowl and beat Virginia Tech in one heck of an ugly game. Brady Hoke is the new ruler of Ann Arbor. Despite getting to the B1G's first championship game, Michigan State was relegated to play in a lesser bowl game, the Outback Bowl. Sparty-nation was rampantly angry and declared UofM to be the blame for the BCS system. There they notched a rare win over an SEC team for the B1G in overtime. Kudos to Sparty and coach Dantonio. I wish you all the best, except when you play my Irish and Cortney's Maize and Blue. oh yes, that's right, my South Bend boys handed you your worst beat-down this season.

Speaking of that BCS system, this year was one for the record books...of screw ups. You realy took Michigan and Va-tech over Boise State and Kansas State/Baylor for the Sugar Bowl?!? WTF is wrong with you?? Oh that's right, it's about money. I forgot for 2.5, my bad. Can you tell I just got done reading Death to the BCS?? Not that I needed that book to get me going on that anti-trust lawsuit of an organization, but DAMN is it ever a good read!

On that note I want to share this:

Dear Alabama Crimson-Tide,

You have an amazingly scary, big, fast and powerful team. The BCS has deemed you best in all the land. However there is a small problem with this logic. Shouldn't you have to beat a team from ELSEWHERE in the country to be a NATIONAL champion?? I understand that because you over-recruit, over-sign and over-commit right up to the very legal edge of what the NCAA allows (and other conferences don't to your extent) your conference has had the lead for the better half of a decade. I know, "If you're not cheating, you're not trying."...well aside from Ohio State and USC, the rest of the country seems rather content with at leats TRYING to stay safely within the rules and until something changes (AKA a playoff) you will remain there.

How on EARTH two teams from the same crime-ridden conference were allowed to play for something so criminally called a "National Championship" is beyond me. Which, BCS-Cartel Committee, was the lowest and worst-ranked in TV ratings yet. The money-grad bas gotten that bad folks. It really has. Why AD's in the MAC and SunBelt aren't crying foul and organizing protests and threatening to walk-out I do not know. It's not like the BCS allows you to drink from that trough which you support, they openly and overtly keep you out while you kneel at their precence.

Back to Alabama. Folks, my alma-mater has won four REAL national titles in your beautiful state. I respect the tradition and the fan-base. However this year, all you are and will EVER BE are SEC champions...until a full 16-team playoff at on-campus locations is in-place like in all other divisions. Enjoy the crystal ball SEC Champs...God Bless.