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Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Mafia How To

My friend Julie once complained about my blog posts using pictures that didn't really go with the text. Pictures I took, stories about shit I'd gotten up to, but they weren't related.

Sorry Julie, here's a pic of an excellent dry sparkling orange blossom honey mead. And I have a story to tell you about how to get blood stains out of shit In case you want to go to work for the mafia or something.

The mead had an original gravity around 1.100, finished about .998, not light stuff but as meads go kinda. Bone dry with delicate floral aromatics, really a delight to drink. A little too easy to drink if you know what I mean.

But today at my apheresis, I learned a trick about garment maintenance I have to share with you.

I'm sitting there like usual, my fortnightly filtration of a bunch of blood. I'm pretty squeamish by nature but after a few years of this shit I've gotten to where I can watch these lovely women stab me with their 17 gauge needles.

So today I'm watching Weeds, my latest streaming option through the treatment and I notice something. I'm bleeding. A lot. Like blood is leaking around the needle. And before I can say, 'Hey Jennifer,' I see a fine, needle diameter jet of my blood arc from my arm to my shirt. A $40+ Hawaiian shirt, and I don't have a great sense of humor about this.

The nurses weren't freaked out a tall. They brought forth hydrogen peroxide and after my treatment they soaked my shirt's problem areas with that. It foams on contact with blood and when you dry it with a towel and hit it with more hydrogen peroxide, when it quits foaming you're there. My shirt looks good as new.

So screw cold water and whatever, if you want to avoid blood stains on fabric, hydrogen peroxide, end of story.

Separately, I really enjoy this mead, it wouldn't do well in competition, too dry, but delightfully aromatic and crisp.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


So last summer I got diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. The doc I see at the apheresis clinic had drawn some labs and just casually asked, 'Who do you see for your diabetes?'

And I was like what diabetes?

He also said my liver enzymes could look better. "How much alcohol do you drink?" he asked.

As a friend of mine put it, you didn't just rain on my parade, you also shot the Grand Marshall.

I tried to bargain with the diabetes. I love beer. Good beer, not Miller Lite or Michelob Ultra (which don't send my blood sugar to bad neighborhoods). But no, the blood glucose levels don't even like a Bohemian Pilsner like Pilsner Urquell.

So I make allowances for competitions. They feed us like Hobbits at these things: first breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, etc.

Which, before I even tried to clean up my diet over the diabetes thing, was why I quit buying banquet tickets for the KCBM competition. I'm typically full from breakfast when lunch arrives, lunch is typically pretty heavy, and I'm not that big a supper eater anyway. If I'm going to pop for a $35 dinner, I want to go to the table hungry.

I feel like I'm in a rut with the pictures I've been taking at these things. Someone from the club commented to me during the auction that he liked my pictures, and I was like, they're the same pictures every year.

Same people, same setting, same activity anyway. I did take some of my meads from the past year, I got religion and read Steve Piatz's book on the subject, decided to be the old dog that learned new tricks, in no small part because of things Al Boyce said at a presentation at the Bier Meister's competition a couple years ago.

Al's initial response was they seemed like hydromels. He has a bit of a sweet tooth in this area, what he calls a semisweet I'd call a sweet; what he cals a sweet I call cloying pancake syrup. What I call dry he calls 'bone dry' with an obvious negative connotation.

Me, I favored dry meads before diabetes pushed me further into those woods. I wouldn't fancy my chances in competition with these things given how much Al's scale of sweetness seems to be the rule.

I did have Al and two or three others suggest my raspberry melomel would benefit from more acid. Which surprised me, the five gallon batch had almost 20 pounds of the fruit, and it's a pretty acidic fruit. But given the people who were asking for more acid, I'm game to try next time. Maybe take a small sample of the batch, add acid blend in varying quantities to the finished mead and then scale up that addition accordingly when I find nirvana.

Oh, and we had KCBM royalty show up. The closing panel before the banquet included Boulevard founder John McDonald, along with brewers from Red Crow, Crane and KC Bier Co.

I didn't stay for the banquet like I said, but at least I got a shot of Myles in his fez during the raffle. Which I bought a buttload of tickets for and yet won nothing. I guess as karma goes, I'm still paying off my score from a few years ago, my Snoop Dog oil painting.

It's a hiphop version of a velvet Elvis, and it hangs over the recliner I'm blogging from. I've looked in some pretty ghetto liquor stores and never found Colt 45 Blast in grape. But then, maybe my liver enzymes and diabetes don't want me finding that.

Mo's 21st

My youngest daughter just turned 21. I thought getting to be an old man would take longer, but alas.

So a party was held. But this kid isn't a Power Hour kind of 21 year old. Low key, at her Mom's house, with pretty much immediate family present. Ice cream cake, soda, pizza.

The artist formerly known as Frau Lobster gave her a sip of wine to try since, after all, what is the point of turning 21 if you can't get boozed up. She made a face that reminded me of the time she had oral surgery and was given something to ease her into anesthesia and reacted to the flavor with, "Hello, boring! Boring! Boring! Boring!"

So I thought, well, beer. Okay, there wasn't actually any beer on hand, but there was some Coors Light in the fridge. Mo loves club soda, and that's about what the Silver Bullet amounts to, so I tried her on a sip of that one. I guess that was hello boring, too, based on the face she made and the force with which she pushed the Solo cup away.

I'm cool with this. I have something like a romantic relationship with alcohol. I'm a BJCP National rank beer judge, a homebrewer since 1995, with some ambitions of eventually opening a meadery. But I've also had to scale back my consumption in the face of bad lab results, I can't say the stuff improves my social skills or judgment, and Mo takes some pretty high test drugs to control seizures so booze is probably pretty strongly contraindicated.

She had fun opening her presents. We tried to get her to blow out candles on her ice cream cake but she, predictably, ran to her bedroom and hid under stuffed animals. Not sure what gives with that, until a few years ago I could count on getting a photo of her blowing out her candles but at some point that went into the column of I'm not doing that no matter what.

My eldest daughter, by the way, had to show me her and her husband's digs in the basement of my ex's house. Which features a flag for a Panic at the Disco tour. I don't get the appeal of that band, but I am super stoked that I got us all (my wife, my kids, my kid's husband and me) great seats to a local high school's production of Spamelot. Should be epic. We all loves the Monty Python.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Okay, I get that Alex Smith is too expensive for the Chiefs to keep. And I'm psyched about Patrick Mahomes starting next year, I think he's the most promising thing I've seen in a Chiefs uniform since Dick Vermeil's years coaching here.

So they've traded Smith to the Washington Redskins, frees up umpteen million in cap space they desperately need to shore up an iffy defense (and I hope maybe upgrade their offensive line so the green quarterback doesn't get creamed too often).

But the Eagles this year illustrate how you can have a Super Bowl caliber team, a promising young quarterback and really need an experienced backup QB. Without Nick Foles, they don't go to the Super Bowl this coming Sunday.

I realized today that the perfect solution for the Chiefs would be Colin Kaepernick. He's had a year off to get healthy, he's a big, strong, fast quarterback with plenty of experience (and his talents are very similar to Mahomes' from what I can tell so he'd plug in to a Mahomes-centric system pretty readily), and he's unemployed.

The Chiefs already have a kneeler or two during the anthem, so I don't think that'd be an issue. And as far as reclamation projects, Andy Reid took fucking Michael Vick and gave him another chance, surely wearing idiotic Castro t-shirts isn't as bad as dog fighting.

And I think they could structure the contract in a way that would be hard to resist: say $2 million guaranteed, with incentives like $500,000 for each game he starts and another $500,000 for each game he stars and wins. So if Mahomes goes down in the preseason and Colin leads us to a 16-0 regular season, he would make $18 million, a very respectable salary for him and a very reasonable deal for the Chiefs. If he spends the season watching from the sidelines, he's got his $2 million, still healthy and fresh, and probably has better prospects of getting some team in the league to try him as a starter again.

Honestly, I don't know why the NFL hasn't given me a job making big money. I can figure this shit out on the fly.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Big Grin IV

It's been four years since my friend Joel, aka The Big Grin, died of that all too common, you'd never expect it but probably should, accident in the home. I believe he was trying to fetch something from the loft above his workshop when he fell. He had a young son, and his wife had just gotten pregnant with a daughter he never even got to meet. Incredibly sad.

But the memorial ride we've had for Joel each year since the tragedy is not sad. It is a celebration of a goofy guy who touched a lot of people. An avid cyclist, he would post things to Facebook like, 'Just so you know, riding to work in the snow is super awesome fun!' (on a day when he knew damn well the bike shop would be closed, but he rode to work anyway because it gave him a chance to ride his Pugsley in the snow). He loved to explore the city, he loved to push his own boundaries and see other people do the same.

A couple years ago, it was five degrees Fahrenheit and we rode anyway. Joel would have been delighted to see us all out there despite it being stupid cold. This year, it was warmer but snowy.

And for me, snow is a challenge. A little bit of snow, no big deal. But refrozen snowpack can be like a freaking skating rink and I don't have a sense of humor about falling down. I fall with the grace and dignity of a sack of dishes.

Gravel is hard for me too, and while it's pretty tame gravel, the Big Grin ride always includes a bit of it along the levy. Fitting, since Joel was one of the founders of the Dirty Kanza, one of the premier gravel grinder rides in the world. I remember one year he got hurt right before Trans Iowa, which is another of those. So someone who thought it was good fun to attempt 200 or 340 miles of gravel roads in a race, you gotta do some gravel on his memorial ride.

Gravel with snow on it, yeah. That's even trickier I learned. Fortunately someone hung to warn me of a frozen puddle that had put a half dozen riders down by some railroad tracks, and I managed to stay upright but there were a few patches where I was pretty terrified. I kept telling myself, these other fuckers have stayed up, you can too.

Riding in the wet snow on pavement was tiring, too. It was in the upper 20s, so the snow kind of clumped up on the tires and made them heavy and sluggish. I didn't make the start of the ride, that seems to be a tradition. I got to the Trek Store for the first one right as they were leaving, and every year since I've met them somewhere on Merriam Lane. I guess I've heard that I will be late for my own funeral, so I guess it's fitting that I'd also be late for my friend's funeral.

I was proud of my beard-cicles. I don't think I've ever grown a good set of ice on my facial hair before, even though I've ridden in much colder temperatures. My friend Jones who has a gnarly, grizzly bear type beard is always a great one for icing up. I've always been jealous, but mine this time was pretty decent.

I was also really touched that Jofess, Joel's son, asked me to pick him up at this party. He's not shy, and he's never been standoffish with me or anything, but I think this is the first time he's really engaged with me on this level. I picked him up, and he asked where my hair had gone. Hilarious.

So I told him straight, my hair went to the Eyebrow Farm where people get eyebrows and ear hair and big long nose hairs. I mean, you're not gullible enough to think eyebrows just grow on faces, right kid?