April is Beer Month

I’m usually not impressed with politician’s decrees but wholeheartedly support our governor’s sage decision to officially declare April the official “Beer Month”:  Governor Cooper said.

“North Carolina’s craft beer industry is a growing economic engine for our state,” “Breweries help cities big and small by creating jobs and bringing visitors and locals together.”

As per the North Carolina Beer Month site the state boasts of more than 250 breweries — more than any other state in the South

I love beer and am pleased that many others are discovering my passion.  But 2018’s most popular beers aren’t baby boomers 15 cent Genny Crème Ale drafts or sixers of Bud or Miller but instead are Craft Beers ( what is craft beer) brewed and consumed by mostly Millennials.  That’s right, evidently one of the reasons this demographic doesn’t vote is because they’ve been concentrating on creating and consuming the perfect beer. beer vs vote cartoon

Craft Beers are defined as beer produced by small, independent, breweries with an annual production of 6 million barrels or less.  And from what I’ve experienced in visiting many of these breweries the staff and master brewers are young, smart, and innovative with borderline mad scientist’s tendencies—my type of people

My transition from years of enjoying Budweiser to the current masterly blended IPA’s was non-intentional.  Dining at a tavern in Asheville, North Carolina, there was no Bud or Heineken so I ordered a locally brewed craft beer and discovered the amazing taste of IPAs (India Pale Ale) .  I was officially a member of the IPA fan club.

I was now on a quest to try as many craft beers as I could—1 down 4000 +/- to go!  A real challenge since I limit myself to a max of two beers a day—but there are 365 days in a year which gives me 730 tastes.  So, I’d belly up to the bar and ask for an IPA.  Bartenders reply: “Do you like hoppy or malty?”  I replied with a stupid shrug and let him/her choose.  This method of choosing a beer introduced me to the best and the worst so I decided to try and educate myself on craft beers to become an intelligent beer consumer.

I found that all beer is made from four basic ingredients: Barley, water, hops and yeast. The basic idea is to extract the sugars from grains (usually barley) so that the yeast can turn it into alcohol and CO2, creating beer.   There are two basic types of beer, lagers and ales created with different brewing techniques, etc, etc.

It became apparent that understanding and mastering the intricacies of craft beers would challenge my ADD tendencies since beer terms are confusing at best.  “Hoppy is bitter, but not always” “Lagers can taste like ales and ales can taste like lagers”.  I soon realized that I was wasting my time on trying to become a beer scholar and the only fact I really cared about was a great taste.

Luckily, I live in an area with dozens of breweries and restaurants with large selections of beer and now choose restaurants as much on their beer offerings as their food.  Most of these eating places have beer specials which is a great way to taste new beers and save some money.  One of our go-to eating establishments is a pizza restaurant with many rotating beers on tap and knowledgeable bartenders who try and explain the beer tastes with samples—great educational tool.  As I sampled more beers, it didn’t take long for me to come up with a favorite list (so far):

  1. Highland IPA (Highland Brewing, Asheville NC)
  2. Torpedo (Sierra Nevada Brewing, Asheville, NC)
  3. Bells Two Hearted (Bell’s Brewing, Kalamazoo, MI)
  4. Pernicious (Wicked Weed Brewing, Asheville, NC)
  5. Jai Alai (Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL)

It’s been enjoyable but an expensive taste test to create this list.  Buying craft beer is like buying a custom suit with a master brewer fine tuning the ingredients until they reach the perfect brew—but this costs money because of expensive ingredients, time to perfect and brew, and producing small quantities.  An average 6 pack of an IPA costs about $11 whereas I can purchase a twelve pack of my old favorite, Budweiser, for the same price.  But the price thing has actually been a positive for me in narrowing down the new beers I try.  I wait to experiment with new beers when they are on sale for $8 or $9.  If I find a winner I add it to my favorites list and as that list grows the odds of one of them being on sale increases—genius!  So now I’m drinking my favorite IPAs at a discount.

I know this exploding beer popularity is here to stay since my wife has traded her wine glass for a beer mug and become a beer groupie.  Soon I may not be the only guy to bring a six pack to a wine tasting and maybe some of our young smart millennials can vote while their masterpieces are fermenting.  Chug-a-lug!

Bullying II

I’ve been blogging “My World” for quite a while posting my opinions on anything that sparks my interest.  The way my blog works is that my posts move down chronologically as I add new ones.  But there are some subjects that need to be addressed more than once—like Bullying.

I recently received a comment on my 2014 post on bullying:

I want to suggest you share an important guide which came out last week. I found it was very thorough on child safety online”.  (3/13/18)

In response to this comment I am including: the link to this new information on protecting your children from all sorts of internet abuses including cyber-bullying, a great general bullying information link, and a re-post of my original blog on bullying.

I thank Jackie for her comment inspiring this post and promoting child safety online.  Solving the bullying problem has recently taken on more importance since bullying has become part of the conversation in the tragic school shootings and internet abuse.cyberbullying cartoon

We need to unite to eliminate the bullying problem by following the professional strategies outlined in the links above or we can just “frogimize” the bullies (see the video in my post below).

My Blog on Bullying (2014)

There seems to be a lot in the news about bullying. I guess like underage drinking and drugs it is a topic that will never go away. I’m pretty sure it’s been around since caveman days where the guy with the bigger club and smallest brain is harassing the guy who figured out the wheel and got fire going.

There are two types of bullies: the blatant atomic wedgie, get-out-of-my way, totally abusive moron and the rest of us. That’s right, you too. We all seem to go through an insecure need-to-find-weaker-prey stage to elevate our sagging self-esteem. Even if you’re a caring individual you probably unknowingly participate in these feeding frenzies. It usually starts with the back and forth teasing between friends or siblings looking to one up each other and progresses to include innocent victims who are genuinely hurt by these verbal assaults. It isn’t just the taunts that make you a bully; it’s your self-perceived innocent actions. Social events that exclude a few can really hurt if you’re the excluded and being that guy/girl who’s always picked last for dodge ball or is the first easy target sucks. And you brainiacs who are thinking that I’m sympathizing with you have your own bullying techniques of looking down at the average kid struggling with geometry or physics. I’ve been lucky enough to have flown below the bully radar but I’ve done my share of teasing and witnessing teasing and not intervening. The good news is that most of us grow up to see that the bullying thing is FUBAR so we cease and desist. It’s probably a good thing since a lot of the bullied end up being the boss.

The real problem is the hard core bullies who just won’t let up. These guys/gals are relentless at abusing the masses. I’m not sure what satisfaction there could be in picking on innocents who are smaller, different, or just in their way. Many bullies have documented issues that we should be sympathetic to, but what about sympathy for all the victims of their wrath. Nobody, for any reason, is entitled to invade anybody else’s space unless invited and being smaller or less aggressive is not an invitation to abuse.

Middle schools seem to be the launching pads for bullies. I don’t know why but middle school sucks in all ways and in all communities: rich, poor, urban, rural… This is where wedgies and put-downs are perfected. I know the schools have real challenges but it is their responsibility to create a safe non-abusive environment and be accountable if that standard is not maintained. Some seem to put the quality of what’s served in the lunch room above protection of harassed kids. Many of these adolescent terrorists continue to bully as adults. Think about road rage, oppressive bosses and coworkers, and some of our government officials. And now bullies have an even bigger platform with the cyber world. They can be faceless cowards who attack people and humiliate their victims on a grander scale. Even a mild tease is magnified when it is sent out to the world.

It’s always great to see how neighbors and strangers unite during man-made or natural crisis to help victims. Bullying is a crisis and needs the same team effort to eliminate bullies at all levels. I remember the wooden rulers with the golden rule engraved on it -“do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. We have to add to the rule that we will also “defend all against bullies”. We ALL have to make sure we live by that rule and be ready to step in when we witness those wedgies and educate ourselves to recognize and stop bullying without becoming the bully. I googled bully and got over 28 million results so this subject is getting some attention. If you need a starting point for information on bullying:  http://www.stopbullying.gov/ .

The good news is that there are a lot of great programs addressing the bullying problem including the people behind the links above and as my small contribution to the anti-bullying initiative I have created a fantasy anti-bully app: The Bully frogamizer. This makes light of a serious subject but hopefully can put a smile on the faces of those who have been bullied and give them a little vicarious revenge. This app might be fantasy, but anything that can help to address this problem that is subjecting innocents to bully abuse is a good thing.

My 10 Commandments of Voting

I sent an email to my local councilman asking him why he was voting for an issue when 90% of his constituents were against it.  He responded that he felt that once he was elected he was given a mandate to vote his will and not necessarily in line with his constituents–WTF.  I responded that I thought that he should be polling his constituents on major issues and vote their will—of the people by the people.

His trust-me attitude is typical of what’s wrong with our broken system of government where once a candidate takes office he/she abandons us and follows the money becoming a rubber stamp for party and special interests.

All levels of government, local, state, and federal, are dysfunctional and we need new representatives who are willing to change the status quo.  Demonstrations and letters/emails to our officials demanding change are satisfying, but seem to have little effect.  Even the recent school shootings which rallied the majority of America to demand some sort of minimal national gun control failed to overcome the power of big money special interest groups.

The only solution is to VTIO (vote the idiots out).  2018 is an important year and could be a start to taking back our government.  But change only happens if we all vote and not just for the sake of voting.  The reason the dysfunctionals get elected is that we don’t pay attention and most of us don’t vote. For your vote to make a difference you have to show up and be informed especially if you want to “vote the idiots out”. 10 commandments of voting cartoon

Below I’ve put together my 10 commandments of voting that is my plan to put some of the good guys in office.

  1. Encourage young, smart people to run for office and old politicians to retire.  We must create a new election model: “voting for the best of the best” and not “the worst of the worst”.
  2. Support your candidate: financially, by campaigning, and by showing up at the polls.  I am in favor of many small grass roots contributions over large special interest, corrupting donations–BRIBES.
  3. Don’t vote for anyone with “too-good-to-be-true” campaign promises:
    • Free college for all?”
    • I’ll be too busy to play golf?”
  4. Don’t vote for anyone who has served more than three terms
  5. Don’t vote for anyone who attacks their opponent on a personal level.  The only debate should be about issues.
  6. Vote for a populist (a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people). You don’t truly represent me if your vote is dictated by special interest or political party.
  7. Vote for young and smart.  They should control their future instead of old, white, corrupt lawmakers who won’t be around.
  8. Be an informed voter by knowing the platform of both the the person you are voting for and their opponents before you get to the polls.
  9. VOTE and get as many of your friends’, neighbors and relatives out to vote.
  10. Stay involved after the elections and make sure your elected official fulfills campaign promises and votes with their constituents truly representing “the will of the people”.