Nov 122017

I thought about this earlier this week, googled for something about it to see if it had already been covered, didn’t immediately see anything as obvious as what I was thinking and decided to go ahead and post about it.

I’m clearly not very good at regularly posting. The last one was a decent one, I think, but that was 10 months ago.

Unrelated old beer photo from a pre-Untappd world

Unrelated old beer photo from a pre-Untappd world

Here’s what I was thinking: the explosion of craft beer and social media at roughly the same time has culminated in me being able to relatively easily find any beer that I’d like to try if it’s available locally. Untappd makes this possible. I’ve been a member since the summer of 2012. It’s pretty great. I also recently passed 1000 different beers. So it took me five and a half years to remember to check-in with each beer that I’ve tried. I’m sure I’ve missed some but I’ve been pretty good about recording them. I’m typically too lazy to write any comments unless the beer is particularly good or bad. I think my ratings are relatively consistent.

As far as finding a beer (or two) that I want to try, here’s what happened this week. I know that Celis had the first release of Grand Cru last weekend and that’s one of the recipes from the original brewery that I’ve been wanting to see return. I had Friday off for Veteran’s Day. I had also seen via Easy Tiger’s Instagram feed that they’d tapped an intriguing barleywine from Dogfish Head called Puddin’ Wine. A quick couple of searches on Untappd showed that I could probably get both at Bangers. Sure enough, I was able to sit down outside on Friday afternoon and order both, one right after the other.

While I was there, I requested an Untappd API key so I can show check-ins as a feed, similar to the Twitter and Flickr posts. So there it is over there on the right as well.

I mentioned the ratings on Untappd earlier, that’s the other benefit: remembering that I’ve already tried something and that maybe I wasn’t a huge fan.

I was at Lazarus a while back and ordered the Amandus. About two sips in, I thought, “Wow, I really don’t like this. It’s way too heavy on the banana esters.” If you look at their description, it says “Strong Belgian Golden Ale”. I do not expect banana esters with that description. I think something more along the lines of Duvel or the Grand Cru that I mention below. However, if you read the full description, it says:

St. Amandus was a Belgian monk famous for his hospitality: he became the patron saint of brewers, bartenders, and innkeepers. With hints of banana, pear, and cloves, this beer is our toast to a great man in a great beer-making region!

Hints? It’s more than hints. Here’s what I said back in January. Clearly, I should’ve paid attention to that last bit. As an aside, beware of the descriptions at Lazarus. They tend to add a flavor that you don’t expect to a beer style that you think you know. I’m not saying is good or bad, it just means that you end up with something you don’t expect.

Since the Lazarus visit, I was at WhichCraft Mueller where I had the Founders Nitro Oatmeal Stout. Again, I should’ve paid attention to my past self. It wasn’t following the Bible Belt that made it forgettable. It’s just weaker than I generally want in my stouts. That disappointment was more than made up for by the Black Butte XXIX that I had after it.

 Posted by on November 12, 2017 at 2:36 pm
Jan 082017

I got Hardcore: Life of My Own as a gift over the holidays. Reading about the Lower East Side in the 80s is making me nostalgic for the two years that I spent down there in the mid 90s. Things had already started to clean up when I arrived but it was still a little sketchy. It was nowhere near as bad as in the 80s but it wasn’t the over-priced DisneyLand that most of Manhattan has become now.

In Googling around, I found a nice recap of the ghosts of NYC music venues on Buzzfeed. More for my own memory than anything else, but here’s what I remember about some of these places.

  • CBGB – I’m pretty sure it was still open when I lived there but there wasn’t really much happening at that point. I think the hardcore matinees had moved farther south. I remember going to at least one show at some other place down in Tribeca, maybe?
  • Electric Circus / Coney Island High – The former was clearly closed before I got there, but CIH was going strong. Again, I almost went to several shows there but actually never did. I walked that block all the time though and it was always very punk rock. There was at least one record store and then other stores selling leather and bondage stuff. That street was always busy on the weekends, especially Friday and Saturday night. I think there was a bar in that same grouping on the north side of the street and I remember going there a few times
  • Knitting Factory – I remember going to one show there. I dragged a couple of friends to an experimental jazz show with Charles Gayle. They thought I was from another planet for taking them to that show. Gayle was on one of the Rollins Band albums which is how I’d heard of him.
  • Limelight – The club kid thing was still going strong when I lived there. I thought about going in there once or twice since I used to walk past it all the time, but I was too scared of what I’d find in there. I wasn’t into the music or the drug scene.
  • Palladium – This place was pretty much dead when I lived in NYC, but still did host a few shows. I also used to walk past there fairly frequently. I knew it had hosted the early Club MTV episodes with Downtown Julie Brown (who you can hear on Sirius XM along with pretty much anyone else who was a VJ in the 80s).
  • Ritz – I went to a few shows at Webster Hall which is still in Ritz’s former location. I think they just hosted a Metallica fan club show there last year. It’s a nice mid to small-sized venue I worked with a girl who I also briefly dated whose college roommate lived across the street. I went to an after party for the premiere of Basketball Diaries here and watched Leonardo DiCaprio get really excited and run onto the dance floor for either NIN’s “Closer” or Beck’s “Loser”. I can’t remember which. It might’ve been both. I also passed that place on my way home quite a bit.
  • Academy – Searching for this place is actually what landed me on the Buzzfeed article. I remember seeing a show with the Beastie Boys that had Tibetan monks and Luscious Jackson as the openers. According to this stub on a Beastie Boys site, it was May 27th, 1994. I got in for free because the singer from the band that I was in at the time had also been a roadie for Luscious Jackson. I think I also saw a Fishbone show here. It was interesting because it’s pretty much right in Times Square.
  • Brownies – I’m pretty sure I saw Tad at Brownies along with a few other shows. It was getting some pretty good bands even in the mid-90s. I think Starfish from here in Austin played there right after I left and moved back to Austin.

Two more that aren’t on this list that I recall fondly:

  • Roseland – This historic ballroom was announced to be closing around the time the Buzzfeed post was made so it’s not surprising it’s not on the list. Looking at Google StreetView from this year, it’s now a hole in the ground. It’s just a block south of the Ed Sullivan Theater, famous for hosting the Late Show with David Letterman and now Stephen Colbert (I also went to an early Letterman taping there with Chris K. from graduate school). I saw an amazing show with Helmet there on the Betty tour. I also saw Faith No More on their tour supporting King for a Day.
  • Tramps – This was a place near Flatiron District if I recall correctly. I saw Sebadoh and Reverend Horton Heat here among a few others. I remember seeing Scott Ian from Anthrax in the audience at the Rev. show.

This guy also did a similar list to Buzzfeed’s and mentions Tramps along with a few that didn’t include my additions or Buzzfeed’s.

I probably should do one for Austin in the late 80s / early 90s.

 Posted by on January 8, 2017 at 1:23 pm
Jan 022017

I managed to watch quite a few things over the break, a few things in the theater and the rest either on DVD or streaming.

  • Rogue One – Alamo South Lamar – Better than Force Awakens
  • Moonlight – Alamo Ritz – It was good. Maybe not as good as the reviews made it out to be, but it was very good.
  • Caught up on Walking Dead – DVR – Half season closer made up for the two throw away episodes earlier in season seven. I’m still not really liking the Neegan casting, but again, that last episode made me rethink that position.
  • Continued Season 2 of The Killing – Netflix – This is a pretty good series. I’m invested enough to keep going. My daughter and I have been watching it.
  • Trainwreck – DVD rental from Vulcan – This one is worth watching. Colin Quinn and Dave Attell steal every scene they’re in
  • Sicario – DVD rental from Vulcan – Wow. This one was a downer. I liked it though. Benicio Del Toro is a bad ass.
  • Nothing Left Unsaid – spontaneous viewing on CNN – This one was really interesting. I didn’t know all of the details about Gloria Vanderbilt’s life and I had no idea that Anderson’s older brother, Carter, had committed suicide. Really well done.
 Posted by on January 2, 2017 at 1:19 pm
Jan 022017

I didn’t get very far with my foray into Ruby on Rails since my last post. It’s installed, but life has gotten in the way of my finding the time to get a new website going. I did experience setting up Ruby again though on my work laptop for a book club that we’re starting. We’re reading Seven Languages in Seven Weeks: A Pragmatic Guide to Learning Programming Languages. In getting ready to run Ruby (the first of the seven languages), I found this post, Install Rails 5.0 – macOs Sierra, which seemed pretty good and introduced me to Ruby version managers. nvm which I’ve been using to manage node versions apparently took its idea from rvm. I’ve also been looking at which is outdated, but has some good basics for Ruby.

 Posted by on January 2, 2017 at 12:58 pm
Mar 082016

I’m in the process of reviving another project in addition to the React Native project which admittedly has stalled a bit over the last few months. I blame basketball and soccer season.

After looking at the web setups that my hosting company supports and vowing not to go down the PHP road again, I’m trying to get setup with Ruby on Rails. This post has been a pretty good guide to getting up and running on a Mac. I did run into several things that article did not cover, so I thought I’d cover them here.

First off, what led me to that post was that I tried using the install of Ruby already installed on with OSX and immediately ran into permissions problems as described in this Stack Overflow post. Apparently, it’s not a good idea to use the system Ruby and you have to install a development copy. As I followed the steps in the GoRails post, I ran across a few more issues.

I really like Homebrew, but you do need to be sure to update it frequently and probably should run the update prior to any new install. I tried installing MySQL and hit a few issues as I did it. The first was because I didn’t keep homebrew up to date.

I ran

homebrew doctor

to reveal that I didn’t have permissions on /usr/local/bin for some reason. Once that was fixed and I got MySQL installed, I tried following the instructions that show at the end of the install. Unfortunately, those instructions assumed that a symbolic link had been created that did not exist. Luckily, the GoRails article included the step to first create the symbolic link and the setup went well after that.

My last issue was encountered while trying to create the database during the initial application setup in Rails. It turns out the version of MySQL installed via Homebrew is not compatible with the version of Rails that I installed while following the article. In addition to needing to supply the database credentials in the yaml file as specified in the setup, I had to give a specific version of MySQL in the gemfile:

gem 'mysql2', '0.3.20'

Once getting through that, I was able get the Rails welcome page.

 Posted by on March 8, 2016 at 9:01 pm
Jan 312016

Google and others have been pushing for HTTPS everywhere. If I recall, they put something out last year stating that having https will be factored into a site’s ranking. My web host has made it possible to have https on their hosted accounts as of this past week. For free! As in beer! So update your bookmarks to this super frequently updated site to use https because you can.

I had to fix a few things that caused mixed content warnings including finally updating the ancient widget that I was using to show my tweets over there on the right. It’s been broken ever since Twitter switched API versions from 1 to 1.1 and started requiring OAuth. It was going to take a bit more work to update that widget, so I opted for the one from Jetpack that uses the Twitter widget instead. I could configure that via the existing editors versus having to go grab a PHP OAuth library and having to figure out how to integrate that into WordPress.

 Posted by on January 31, 2016 at 10:04 am
Dec 122015

We’re using React at work for a current project. I thought I might start checking out React Native as a side project to get me working more in React and to see what I can get going on iOS.

The React Native Getting Started page is pretty good, but upon trying to run the AwesomeProject sample, I got errors related to watchman in the console the first time and then a subsequent error similar to

Error building DependencyGraph:
TypeError: Cannot read property 'root' of null

followed by a stack trace. The simulator then loaded with a red screen and another set of errors. I went to the React Native Troubleshooting page, but didn’t find my error there. After googling a bit, I found that

brew update && brew reinstall watchman

did the trick for me and got me running. I also got warnings about running with iOS 7.0 as the target. I don’t know if that was the default from the React starter or some other default, but I just set that to the latest (iOS 8.2).

The issue navigator in Xcode is also giving the following error, but I haven’t sorted that one out yet. It didn’t keep the project from running.

(null): Directory not found for option '-F/Applications/'

Stay tuned as I post my progress here with trying out React Native.

 Posted by on December 12, 2015 at 2:54 pm
Jan 162015

It’s an upbeat day for science / environmental news. I started my day reading the cover of the New York Times as I waited in line for my coffee this morning.

Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says

So that’s a little light reading.

Followed by the following two posts from the Washington Post…

It’s Official: 2014 was the hottest year in recorded history


Scientists react to warmest year: 2014 underscores ‘undeniable fact’ of human caused climate change

So, thanks for that, everyone who doesn’t give a shit, actively works against any measure for mitigating this looming disaster or just has their head in the sand (or other places where the sun doesn’t shine). Unfortunately, that includes my own parents. Unbelievable.

 Posted by on January 16, 2015 at 3:33 pm
Dec 272014

Welcome to day fourteen of fourteen days of Anchor Christmas spanning 14 years of the beer. You can view the back story and the tasting for 200120022003200420052006200720082009201020112012 and 2013.

Anchor Christmas 2014

Anchor Christmas 2014

Day 14: Anchor Christmas 2014

Tree: Giant Sequoia, Sequoiadendron giganteum

Anchor Label 

Neck Label Text: This is the fortieth “Our Special Ale” from the brewers at Anchor. It is sold only from early November to mid-January. The Ale’s recipe is different every year, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life. In ancient times trees symbolized the winter solstice when the earth with its seasons appears born anew.

Tasting Notes: Founders Brewing Tulip glass. We’re up to the current year. All of the qualities of the annual Our Special Ale are present. The caramel, malty, raisin taste along with the spice / piney taste from the added spices and hops. This is a great winter beer whether you’ve aged it or not. I always look forward to a six pack each November / December as a part of my holiday tradition.

Recap: Overall, I think my vertical fourteen year tasting has kept in line with what I read from others. This beer holds up really well for the first three or four years and generally goes down from there.

  • 2011-2014 : Generally great. Exactly what you expect and aging does change the flavor a bit
  • 2009-2010: These didn’t hold up well.
  • 2007-2008: These were oddly good although 2007 had something going on with its smell.
  • 2001-2006: It’s a real mixed bag but generally these didn’t hold up very well

Other Observations:

  • The text on the neck label changed subtly over the years including expanding the production period in 2003.
  • They added a label on the back in 2002.
  • They didn’t give the scientific name (Ginko Biloba) on the 2010 label for some reason.


 Posted by on December 27, 2014 at 12:04 pm